Of all the main streets I’ve done, this may have been the biggest surprise. It’s about the size of Fargo when I was growing up - a bit shy of 50K souls. Nicknames: The Parlor City, Carousel Capital of the World, Valley of Opportunity. The third sounds like ballyhoo, but what of the others? We’ll see.

This . . . this looks like the town’s been through a war.

A war fought with acid. What was it?

History: "Built in 1892, this building served as the hub of the Binghamton Opera scene throughout the late 19th and early 20th century. From the 1930’s-1970’s it was used as a movie theatre. It’s basically been abandoned since then."

Shall we go inside?


There are some remarkably solid and substantial commercial structures, and you usually don’t find things this big from this age in smaller towns.


Nor do you find unmolested 1940s facade jobs that just scream BENNY GOODMAN ON THE RADIO


I mean, holy jeezum crow:


The Press Building. Tallest “privately owned” structure in town, the newspaper says; finished in 1905. Slated to be residential, of course.

This description makes you worry:

It was originally built to be the home of Willis Sharpe Kilmer's newspaper, The Binghamton Press. Kilmer insisted it be the tallest structure in downtown Binghamton, a distinction it held for 70 years until the 17-story State Office Building was constructed in 1972. Inside, the lobby was covered with magnificent marble tiles which lead to an exquisite grand staircase. Ornamental plaster artwork adorned the ceiling. The marble floor was highlighted with an inlaid brass design and the "Kilmer Building" logo.

So much past tense. Alas:

The Binghamton Press relocated in 1964. Changes were made to the interior of the building. The marble tile was removed as well as the brass inlaid design and the Kilmer logo.

The rest of the street: remarkably well-preserved, and all from an era whose buildings are usually lost.


It’s like looking back a hundred years. Turn around, and . . .

WOAH again. Same architect as the Press Building - T. I. Lacey - and completed in the same year.


They were throwing around a lot of cash in 1904.

As for this one . . .

I’m starting to think Mr. Kilmer was a big deal around town.
Here’s the story.

Kilmer was perhaps best known for advertising and promoting his uncle's Swamp Root patent medicine formula until it became a household name.

Dr. S. Andral Kilmer (1840–1924) developed the Swamp Root formula and began selling it around 1878. Three years later, Dr. Kilmer's brother Jonas (1843–1912) arrived from New York City to help run the fast-growing business. In 1892, Jonas bought out his brother and brought in his son Willis to direct marketing and advertising. Continued success led them to construct the six-story Kilmer Building at Lewis and Chenango Sts in downtown Binghamton, NY as their manufacturing and business headquarters in 1903.

The Swamp Root formulation fell out of favor after the advent of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act, which resulted in the federal government imposing testing and labeling requirements on a variety of products, including patent medicines with dubious claims.

It’s right by the train station, as you can see . . .


But the elevated roadway somehow disconnects everything from everything else.


Bad Buckaroo, and inflicted on a terra-cotta facade like this? SHAME.


Years later it hosted the premier of Deep Throat. Have a look inside, if you wish.



I’d bet it’s an older building that got the screen-wall treatment . . . why, yes.

Looks rather jumbled.

That's just a fragment. More next week.