Today we continue our Prohibition in Greece story with a look at the speakeasies that dotted the town.
Clinton N. Howard
Clinton N. Howard was a powerful, passionate, and persuasive advocate against alcohol. He was called the “Little Giant” (he was only five feet tall) and the “Apostle of Prohibition.” Widely known as a brilliant orator, it was said that between 1901 and 1920 when the 18th amendment was passed, he had addressed more people than any other living individual. He visited almost every town and city in the nation. He gave more than 3500 sermons just in the Rochester area alone.
Howard damned Latta Road as “the Highway to Hell” because of the number of speakeasies along its length. Once Prohibition went into effect, Howard was a constant watchman to see that it was enforced. He disguised himself (sometimes as a woman) and went into places to obtain evidence the law was being violated in more than 300 cases. During the first week of April 1921 alone, a disguised Howard (he looked like a derelict), along with two US Secret Service agents. visited 138 bars and was served whiskey at 137. He did so to prove his claim that the Rochester area was openly flouting the law and that local police were doing little or nothing to enforce it.
But the beach resorts and hotels that catered to the tourists and summer vacationers were going to continue to give their clientele what it wanted, law or no law.
Grand View Beach Hotel
Anthony Kleinhans built the Grand View Beach Hotel circa 1882 at 2200 Edgemere Drive (today Old Edgemere Drive). Joseph Rossenbach, Sr. took over and then was succeeded by his son, Joseph Rossenbach, Jr. who was a proprietor during Prohibition. Newspapers referred to the Grand View Beach Hotel as an “exclusive lakeshore nightclub.” Thousands of dollars had been spent to transform the wooden building, which faced the lake, into an attractive resort. It was “one of the most exclusive of the lakeside night clubs…having long been popular with merrymakers who seek recreation at the midnight hour.” Right from the earliest days of Prohibition, the Hotel was a favorite target of dry agents.
But the year 1930 was extraordinary; in August three raids were made on the Hotel in quick succession. The raids marked the first time within the memory of any of the Rochester agents that a place had been visited two nights in succession. When the agents staged their surprise raid on the afternoon of Wednesday, August 6, four barrels of beer, immersed in the cool waters of Lake Ontario which flowed through a cellaret under the bar room were found.
The warrant used in the raid on the night of August 7 was executed in Buffalo on a complaint of two special agents, who reported they had made several “buys” of liquor at the Hotel on Wednesday night, scarcely two hours after the first raid. Agents swarmed into the crowded barroom just as the evening’s gaiety was getting underway. Catching a glimpse of the raiders approaching the door, Harry Lames, the bartender, began smashing every bottle within reach. The tinkling glass spurred the agents to greater speed. One started to leap over the bar shouting threats. Lames desisted in his efforts to destroy the evidence.
Although the agents did not enter the crowded dining room of the Grand View Beach Hotel on August 7, “news of the raid spread quickly and in a moment the place was in an uproar. Glasses were emptied surreptitiously under the tables or tossed into handy flowerpots. Agents reported several cuspidors in the barroom were filled to overflowing with liquid smelling strangely like alcohol as worried customers stood awkwardly nearby with empty glasses in hand.” On August 9, in the third raid in four days, State Troopers seized liquor samples in a midnight raid on the luckless hotel once again. Ultimately, the Grand View Beach Hotel Bar was ordered padlocked for six months in October 1930.
Sea Glades Hotel/Bar/Restaurant
The Sea Glades hotel/bar/restaurant located at 788 Edgemere Drive was known by various names over the years, Outlet Cottage, Lake View, The Breakers, Surf Club, and Edgewater, but during the height of the Prohibition era, it was called Sea Glades. The proprietor, Ward Vaughn, was considered the most genial of hosts and a “highly personable character.” At the Sea Glades, Vaughn had a “class trade” who liked to spend freely and stay late. It became Vaughn’s custom to invite his customers to the darkened porch of the Sea Glades to watch the cases of whiskey and bags of ale as they were “imported” from Canada from a boat idling just beyond the sandbar. He figured it proved his claim that his product was “right off the boat.” The rumrunners, however, didn’t like so many witnesses, so they shifted to a nearby cove and loaded the liquor into an automobile, and then delivered it to Sea Glades. Vaughn, reluctant to give up his nighttime drama, just substituted his own employees offloading empty wooden cases from a boat borrowed from a friend, his customers none the wiser about the charade.
Mike Conroy Boxing Career
An immigrant from Watervliet, Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium whose real name was Clement J. Versluys, Conroy made his professional boxing debut on May 31, 1920; and during his ten-year career, with 57 bouts he won 34, 22 of them were KOs, Lost 19, 8 of them were KOs., and 4 Draws. The remaining matches for Mike Conroy’s carrier were before he turned pro which put his record at 31 Wins, 22 of them were KOs, and 2 were either losses or draws before he went pro which puts his overall wins at 65 wins of his 79 bouts, 42 of them by knockouts (KOs). He also won several heavyweight titles here in New York State and on December 13, 1924, Mike Conroy won his match in Havana, Cuba against Antolin Fierro the match was planned to be a 10-round match but by the 5th round, Mike had successfully Knocked out Antolin Fierro and took home the Cuban Heavyweight title to Greece, New York. He was a sparring partner of Gene Tunney during the five years leading up to Tunney’s defeating “Battling Jack Dempsey” (Henry Peaks) for the heavyweight crown. Conroy also fought exhibitions with Jack Dempsey. Dempsey and Tunney were the two leading boxers of the Prohibition era.
Mike Conroy Stats from BoxRec.com and according to BoxRec.com the stats they have for Mike Conroy’s professional debut. any Fights listed in his record before that date of this fight, in record published in THE RING, were amateur affairs.
Clement J. Versluys
Rochester, New York, USA
Watervliet, Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Mike Conroy’s Professional Boxing Stats
Pine Tree Inn
Mike Conroy’s Pine Tree Inn, located at 1225 Ridge Road West at the terminal of Mount Read Blvd, was formerly the home of the Lay family, one of the early settler families in Greece. The name comes from the pine trees which used to surround the apple orchards. It was converted to a tavern-hotel around the turn of the 20th century and was purchased by Conroy in December 1928. The congenial Conroy, known as the Bull of Ridge Road, didn’t let the Volstead Act get in the way of his turning the Pine Tree Inn into a local hotspot. His establishment was raided by dry agents in August 1929 and in May 1930 and padlocked in December 1932. Conroy’s inn straddled “the line between the town of Greece and the city of Rochester,” and his lawyers used that quirk to beat convictions. If the warrant said the property was in Greece, the lawyer produced a paper, such as a gas bill, saying it was in the city and vice versa. In due course, agents learned to make out warrants both ways.
Domino Inn / Cosmo Club
As we told you in Snapshot 24, the hotel at Latta and North Greece roads had many names during its 108-year history. It was the Domino Inn and Cosmo Inn during Prohibition. In August 1922, private detectives caught proprietors Harry Wilson and Lewis Dustin serving highballs, cider, and whiskey. Wilson and Dustin were ordered to appear in court to show cause why they should not be removed from maintaining their property. On April 16, 1926, the Domino Inn was raided by a squad of federal agents; they confiscated a pint of gin and proprietor Lewis Dustin again had to answer for it in court. Under new ownership with a new name, the Cosmo Club, the inn was again a target for dry agents in 1932 when proprietor Ray Keck (who previously owned a restaurant at the intersection of Latta Road and Long Pond Road) was arrested for possession of two half barrels of beer and a small quantity of liquor.
T.W. Beatty & Son. Island Cottage Hotel
Beatty’s Island Cottage Hotel, at 953 Edgemere Drive near Island Cottage, was a lakeshore landmark built by Thomas Beatty in 1891 shortly after the opening of the Charlotte Manitou rail line. It soon became the spot to go for summer outings and picnics. Raymond Beatty took over the operation of the hotel in 1917. It was nearly destroyed in a fire in 1932. Ray Beatty and Walter Riddell, the bartender, were arrested after a raid on July 23, 1932, when seven half-barrels of beer, 330 gallons of cider, and assorted liquors were impounded. Riddell was arrested and fined again in May 1933 just months before the law’s repeal.
Reardon’s Inn / Braddock Bay Grill
Reardon’s Inn, later the Braddock’s Bay Hotel, was located at 372 Manitou Road. William and Jane Reardon owned and operated Reardon’s Inn. Jane Reardon was arrested on August 13, 1931, for possessing two half barrels of beer, two gallons of cider, two ounces of whisky, and two ounces of gin. She pleaded guilty in September and was fined $100.00. Today it is the Braddock Bay Grill.
Grove House, located at 187 Long Pond Road was established at least as early as 1880. It was considered a roadhouse compared to more upscale speakeasies.
The arrests made during raids were for comparatively little alcohol; there was “some beer, wine and cider” on August 28, 1929; 16 one-gallon jugs of cider on November 29, 1929; and a mere two gallons of cider and one barrel of beer in August 1931.
The bar was padlocked for several months in 1932.
Grove House’s alcohol was supplied by the Staud Brothers. According to Dwight Bliss, George Staud told him that they kidnapped a federal agent, who infiltrated the Staud organization and held him in the basement of Grove House where they threatened him with a “one-way ride to Lake Ontario.” The agent managed to escape, but possibly still in fear of the Stauds, requested a transfer to Detroit where he thought he’d be safer.
After Prohibition, George and Eddie Staud operated the restaurant at Grove House.
After the Staud brothers, Fred Rotunno owned it for a bit before it became Barnard’s Grove you can read more on the Grove house from Fred Rotunno and Edmond Uschold interview that was done by George Caswell and Edwin Spelman on August 10, 1977.
Today, it’s Barnard’s Grove Restaurant.
Explore the Prohibition and Speakeasies Exhibit – Ongoing
To learn more about the Prohibition Era in Greece visit the Greece Historical Society and Museum at 595 Long Pond Road, where Rumrunners, Speakeasies, and Bathtub Gin is an ongoing exhibit. The Museum’s hours are Sundays, 1:30-4 pm, March through December.
Below is a custom map created by members of the society that shows all the locations of the speakeasies.
On the Map Below the Reardon’s Inn is actually supposed to be marked on the John Mose 4 acres lot and not on F.H. Straub land
As a rural agricultural community in the 1800s, there was no formal fire brigade or fire department in Greece. Fires were common “in an era when most buildings were made of wood, when candles and fuel lamps provided lighting, and when wood stoves were used for cooking.” Bucket brigades fought fires. Water was taken from whatever source was nearby—streams, lakes, ponds, or cisterns—and a line of men formed to pass the buckets from one man to the next until it reached the fire. It was an ineffective way to fight a fire.
In 1890, John Fetzner of Fetzner Carriage shop and Peter Knipper, owner of the Falls Hotel, (we told you about them in Snapshot 16), imported a chemical fire wagon from France. They stored the fire wagon in a shed on the hotel property next door to Fetzner’s carriage shop making it readily available to serve them and their neighbors. The apparatus was on a wheeled carriage base and had to be pulled by volunteers on foot. A chemical reaction between sulfuric acid and a premixture of sodium bicarbonate in one tank propelled water in the other tank through a hose; it could create a stream of flame retardant up to 30 feet high. This is the oldest piece of fire equipment in Greece, and one of the oldest in Monroe County. It is on display in our museum. You can read the full interview on how Society acquired the fire wagon from Bud Steeb by Kay Pollok.
The Town of Greece does not have a centralized fire department; there’s no GFD on the back of our firefighters’ turnout coats. Rather the town is served by four separate fire districts: North Greece, Ridge Road (once called Greece Ridge), Barnard, and Lakeshore. North Greece and Ridge Road (once called Greece Ridge) have three stations, Lakeshore had three stations but decommissioned the station near in Braddock Bay Heights area, and Barnard has only one, which makes nine total in the town. Some calls may receive mutual aid from other fire districts they are Hilton, Spencerport/Odgen Fire, Gates Fire, and the City of Rochester, depending on the type of assistance that is needed.
North Greece Fire District
Founded June 1922
In June 1922 the Carriage and Blacksmith shop once owned by Lewis Combs became North Greece Fire District's first firehouse and the town’s first fire station and their…
…Pierce-Arrow truck was the first motorized fire truck in the Town of Greece. This is their centennial anniversary.
In 1958, North Greece added a second Station on Latta Rd at Mt. Read Boulevard. Up until the mid-1980s, the fire district had an all-volunteer force.
The North Greece Fire District Headquarters were moved from Station 1 at North Greece and Latta to Station 2 at Latta and Mount Read in 1970.
In 1983, a third station was opened on English Road.
Encompassing more than 27 miles, today, the North Greece Fire District serves the largest geographic area in the town and a population of about 41,000. As of January 2020, the district had 45 career firefighters and 33 volunteers.
Between 2016 and 2018 they responded to an average of 3,539 calls per year; 62 percent were EMS-related. 
In 2019, the Insurance Services Office (ISO) rated the North Greece Fire District at a 2 which places it in the top 3% of fire departments in New York State.
Greece Ridge / Ridge Road Fire District
August 3, 1922
The Greece Ridge Fire Department, now Ridge Road Fire District, was established on August 3, 1922. It was first located at 2550 Ridge Road West, the northwest corner of Long Pond Road and Ridge Road. The building was shared with three businesses on the upper floor: H. A. Herrick Civil Engineer and Land Surveyor, J.V. Gallagher Realtor Real Estate Insurance, and A.R. Koerner Contractor Builder. At the back of the site was Buchman’s Dairy then a Walgreens and now an Orvilles Appliance store.
By the way, Peter Knipper and John Fetzner also helped found this department.
Like North Greece, the Ridge Road Fire District is celebrating its centennial.
In 1922, A. R. Koerner besides being a building contractor became the first Fire Chief of the Greece Ridge Fire Department (Ridge Road Fire District). He served as Chief from 1922 to 1939, encompassing three different town administrations: Frank J. Mitchell from 1922-1927, William F. Schmitt from 1928 - 1933, and finally Gordon A. Howe from 1934-1939. Gordon A Howe was the Town Supervisor from 1934 to 1960. A.R. Koerner's chief helmet was received into our collection in 2015 and has been on display since with the chemical fire wagon that is pictured at the beginning of this snapshot.
Like North Greece, Greece Ridge started with a Pierce-Arrow fire truck which was built in Buffalo, NY.
In 1930 Frank Siebert, a co-founder, and volunteer with the department became the district’s first paid firefighter. The firehouse was remodeled and included an apartment for Siebert and his wife and children.
He was on duty 24 hours a day, with about 8 hours off per week. He was assistant chief and later chief commanding volunteer operations during fires. He and his wife continued to reside at that apartment above the station at least until 1953 and most likely until his retirement in 1959 at the age of 79. Frank and A.R. Koerner are in this picture to the left but without notes, on this picture, we are not sure who is all in this picture.
As the population of Greece soared, so did the demands on the department. A new firehouse was opened in 1962 at 1299 Long Pond Road. It is the district’s Headquarters. Today the district serves a population of 27,000 in an area of just under 14 square miles.
The Stoneridge Station (Station #2) was opened in 1971 and was renovated in 2001, while
The third district station at 2300 Ridgeway Avenue opened in 2007.
A hallmark tradition of the Ridge Road Fire Department, begun in 1935, is that their fire trucks are white rather than the traditional red or even yellow.
It is often a family affair for Greece residents who answer the call to fight fires as it was for this Greece Ridge family. At the dedication of the new firehouse in 1962, three-year-old Stephen Volkmar receives a salute from his father Chief at the time John Volkmar, his grandfather, former chief Alfred Volkmar, and his great-grandfather, none other than Frank Siebert. Although the Ridge Road fire district started as a volunteer company, today it does not have any active volunteer firefighters and has not had any for the last 20 years.
In 1947, Ridge Road responded to 52 alarms; in 1959 it answered 126 alarms. Between 2016 and 2018, the district had an average per year of 7,390 calls for service, 68% of which were EMS calls. 
RRFD is the only one of the four districts in Greece and one of three in New York state to be accredited by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, CFAI. The District first achieved accreditation in 2005, and again in 2010, 2015, and 2020. In 2017 it also received a rating of 2, from the Insurance Services Office (ISO) which places it in the top 3% of fire departments in New York State.
With all the training and resources that these firefighters do on a daily basis from doing routine inspections of fire systems in every business, drills, learning new techniques to battle fires, rescuing you from a motor vehicle accident, providing assistance to medical facilities for lift assist and other services they provide, could not prepare them to save ten guests at the Holiday Inn on West Ridge Road, from the town's deadliest fire at the Holiday Inn in 1978 even though the hotel had some of the fire prevention systems in place and yet it failed and Ridge Road Fire District had the equipment to fight the fire and resources to rescue the guest from the hotel and fire companies within a 6-mile radius of the hotel came to assist Ridge Road Fire District to get the fire under control, we will dig a little deeper next week into the Holiday Inn Fire.
We at the Greece Historical Society & Museum would like to congratulate the Ridge Road and North Greece Fire Departments on Celebrating their Centennial anniversary.