Dogberry in Rochester. In Rochester, "Obadiah Dogberry" (a pseudonym; his real name was Abner Cole) published a weekly freethought paper, The Liberal Advocate, from an office in the Reynolds Arcade for almost three years. The paper was written against "superstition and ignorance." In its pages, Dogberry argued that ignorance, superstition, and bigotry were fighting losing battles (Liberal Advocate, March 10, 1832). This was not Dogberry’s first foray into freethought journalism; he had previously published pioneering criticism of the Book of Mormon while editing a previous freethought paper, The Reflector, in Palmyra, New York.
Fourierism in the Reynolds Arcade. In the spring of 1844, seven of the Fourierist phalanxes in west-central New York formed a short-lived federation, the American Industrial Union. The Union rented office space in the Reynolds Arcade. There it offered information to the public on the Sodus Bay Phalanx, the Skaneateles Community, and other phalanxes in the region. In addition, the Union provided a means by which interested persons could join one of the three intentional communities or purchase stock to support them. It also provided a framework for the various phalanxes to exchange information and engage in cooperative purchasing. The office was staffed by local activist Theron C. Leland.
Sadly, it was all for naught; by September 1846, every Fourierist community in west-central New York had failed, leaving the American Industrial Union with nothing to represent.
The Building and Site. The Reynolds Arcade was one of Rochester’s first major commercial buildings. Dating to 1828, it was named for Abelard Reynolds (1785–1878), a pioneer settler of Rochester. The original Reynolds Arcade was razed in 1932 and immediately replaced by a new building, also named the Reynolds Arcade in tribute to the structure’s importance to the history of Rochester.
The Reynolds Arcade stands across State Street from the Talman Block, where between 1847 and 1863 iconic abolitionist Frederick Douglass published antislavery newspapers and journals including the famous North Star.