The former Saltz Furniture Store building in Crisfield (Somerset County) not only had the distinction of featuring architectural details unique to the area, but the distinction of narrowly escaping ruin in 1928.
The faded paint can still easily be read on the side of the building, once identifying the establishment to shoppers. According to the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties survey, the building was constructed around 1900 and was recognized for its ‘decorative Victorian brickwork’ on the second floor exterior.
A fire in the projection room of a local movie theater devastated Crisfield’s uptown area in late March 1928. Approximately $1 million worth of damage was caused by the fire (more than $14 million in today’s dollars), and one firefighter lost his life as a result of fighting the blaze. Although much of uptown was burned to the ground, the fire stopped short of the furniture store.
According to his 1975 obituary, Samuel Saltz was the second generation to run the family business, established in 1888 as a clothing and jewelry business and later a furniture business. His son, William “Bill” Saltz, was the third generation to take over the business; he passed away in 2009.
An Associated Press (AP) story featuring Samuel Saltz’s quirky sense of humor was picked up by numerous papers. The March 1948 piece mentioned how Saltz would leave a sign on his store’s safe that read: “There is no money in the safe. Take the money in the cash register and be satisfied.” It seems as though in one instance burglars did just that, leaving the safe intact and taking approximately $40 that was in the register.
Check out a photo of Crisfield’s uptown area, with the Saltz Furniture Store building visible, and more in the book Somerset County by Jason Rhodes.
Sources: CPI Inflation Calculator; The Daily Times, April 7, 1975; Pottstown Mercury, March 11, 1948; William Saltz obituary; Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties
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