Tragedy in Armory Square: The Syracuse Labor Temple Building Fire

Blk105-Syracuse Labor Temple Fire, Nov 3, 1948

The Syracuse Labor Temple Building, built by local businessmen Jacob and Charles Crouse in 1887, was originally known as the Crouse Building. It housed the Penfeld and Wilcox Bedding manufacturers and, around 1927, it became the office location for various local labor unions, which prompted the name change.

On November 3rd, 1948 at 3:30a.m., a 3-alarm-fire wrecked the building.  One person was killed and two people were injured.  When firemen arrived on the scene, flames were leaping out of the windows of the building halfway across the street. A dozen companies responded to the alarm and fought the blaze until 7 a.m.  The fire is believed to have been started in a first floor office beneath a stairway.  It quickly worked its way up to the second and third floors.

In 1984, developers Robert Doucette and George Curry restored the structure for retail, office and residential space adhering to federal preservation standards.This was one of the early renovations in the rebirth of Armory Square. The renovation of the Syracuse Labor Temple Building earned architects Randall Crawford and Carl Stearns an award for excellence in architectural restoration in 1985.

The building was originally constructed for warehousing and manufacturing businesses, and now has retail, commercial and residential tenants.  In the recent years, it’s been home to Pastabilities restaurant, another Armory pioneer, for many years.  The building is considered to be an historic structure and features carved wooden panels above the second story windows, granite piers to separate storefronts, and flat and round window arches.