Fairview Borough and Township had quite a few businesses that are long gone… That’s understandable, given that times change. A blacksmith, for instance, isn’t needed much anymore. Nor is a carriage works.
The carriage works was owned by Caughey & Wells. It would be nice to think that this Wells had something to do with Wells-Fargo, especially since Fairview also had a family named Fargo. So far we have been able to find a solid link. That building was on the northwest side of Route 20, about one lot in from the main intersection.
We had a great cider mill too, located where Pennant Motors has a parking lot.
And, we had an early General Store. It was called Richardson’s General Store and was in half of a building owned by Minnie Long. The other half housed the A. H. Brubaker Harness Shop. This building also was one lot in from the intersection, on the southwest side of Route 20. Pearl and Elizabeth managed the general store, which they opened at 7 a.m. It stayed open until long after dark, when “nobody came in anymore,” Mrs. Richardson once said. This store also boasted one of the few gas pumps between Girard and Erie. T. W. Sterrett, who lived in the corner house next door, was the first to own an automobile in town.
Mrs. Richardson gave a marvelous account of early life in Fairview for a column in the July 24, 1985 issue of the Cosmopolite Herald. One of her darkest memories, however, was on the night of July 23, 1936 when “a resident of Fairview saw a flare of light” in the harness shop. “It was evident from the start that nothing could be saved,” she said.
The folks in town did their best to save the building and Sterrett’s home next door, forming a bucket brigade from Trout Run to the site, but neither building could be saved, although a few things were rescued from the Sterrett home before fire consumed it. The fire was so intense that it jumped across the street to do some minor damage to Hauck’s General Store on the northwest corner as well as a couple of buildings just to the west of it.
It was the Erie firefighters who saved the whole town from going up in flames. According to the report in the Erie Times, they arrived from Erie about 36 minutes after receiving the call.
The remains smoldered for days afterward and the Richardsons, who had little insurance, eventually found work in a cooperative grocery store in Lake City. Brubaker worked out of his garage for awhile and T. W. Sterrett rebuilt his home, a graceful brick building that years later would house a few small businesses before it was torn down for the Burger King structure.
Mrs. Richardson, Elizabeth, died in 1985 at the age of 99. She added to her interview that of all the changes she had seen in her life, the “most exciting” was “from the horse to the automobile.”