Description: Small hand Mirror with John A. Roberts & Co., Utica, 1911 on back
The last post left me with a big unanswered question: What happened to the Butterfield House? I noticed in the pictures that the building’s appearance changed over the years, but it appeared to keep the same footprint.
Was it significant exterior renovations? By lucky happenstance, I came across a picture of the building by Grace Church with the label, “John A. Roberts & Co.” That name quickly yielded the following search result:
“The Butterfield House, Utica, which
has been one of the prominent hostelries
of Central New York since the Civil War,
is to be closed May 1, 1910 and a five
story steel construction department store
to house the business of John A. Roberts
& Co., is to be erected on the site.” (“About the State: Brief News Paragraphs From All Parts of the Empire State,” Homer Republican, Thursday, May 6, 1909, p 6.)
John A. Roberts & Co. did open at their new location in 1911, complete with a tea room and anything one might want to buy: collars, jabots and tabs, silk and spangled scarfs, ribbons, aprons, wall papers, gloves, men’s solid silk neckwear, women’s pure thread silk hosiery, umbrellas, drapery, cedar chests, odd decorative pieces for the home, kitchen cabinets, mission rockers, sewing machines, Armenian lace handkerchiefs, sterling silver bracelets, house coats, lace curtains, couch covers, velvet hats, dress trimmings, laces, etc.
The Oneida County Historical Society has several items related to John A. Roberts & Co. in our collection. According to the accession paperwork for the mirror, “the John A. Roberts Co. of Utica was a delightful department store, and every year prior to Christmas they gave away a souvenir to their customers. 1911 was the year that the little pocket mirror was distributed. We have a few of the other give away items and this is a nice addition to that collection.”
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