Grosse Pines Residents Celebrate Local History with Outdoor Tribute to The Haven

On Saturday, September 25, residents of the Grosse Pines subdivision, located on Walton Boulevard, welcomed guests and local dignitaries to cut a ribbon and unveil new historical markers commemorating the site and history of The Haven – a private estate built in the late 1920s that was converted to a mental health facility during the Great Depression. The hospital closed in 1968. The structure remained vacant and was destroyed by fire in 1973. Rochester Hills Mayor, Bryan Barnett, and Bo … [Read more...]

Remembering Rochester’s Neighborhood Markets and Grocery Stores

Tucked into some of Rochester’s older residential neighborhoods are a few ordinary-looking homes and buildings that are unlikely to attract special notice from passersby. But in days gone by, these places were hubs of local activity known as neighborhood grocery stores. Sarah Van Hoosen Jones serves customers at her farm store, At the Sign of the Black and White Cow (Courtesy of the Archives of the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm). In the middle decades of the twentieth century, … [Read more...]

Life History Narratives of Detroit Auto Workers in the 1950s

Smart Towns presents “Life History Narratives of Detroit Auto Workers in the 1950s” with Daniel Clark, September 23 Smart Towns host Oakland University history professor Daniel Clark on Thursday, September 23, at 7:00 p.m. at Rochester Hills Public Library. Clark will discuss the lives of 1950s Detroit autoworkers and their resilience during a time of economic and job insecurity.  Clark's first book, Like Night and Day: Unionization in a Southern Mill Town, explored what … [Read more...]

Avon Players Celebrates 75 Years

The year was 1947. On the world stage, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in his experimental jet airplane and Jackie Robinson became the first African American to take the field in a Major League baseball game. On the local stage in Rochester, Michigan, a community theatre group known as the Avon Players was born. An early Avon Players production (Courtesy of Avon Players) The Rev. Robert J. Burgess of Rochester’s First Congregational Church was a leading advocate for the formation of a … [Read more...]

The Rise and Fall of Entertainment Venues on Rochester’s Main Street

In its more than two centuries of existence, Rochester’s Main Street has hosted its fair share of public entertainment venues. As the village grew from a pioneer outpost to a thriving town, Main Street’s business owners stepped up to provide social outlets for the community. Rochester Opera House block as it looked about 1910. Curtain Up A minstrel show and brass band concert was advertised at Newberry Hall in 1876. The first public gathering place capable of seating a crowd—aside … [Read more...]

Power to the People: How Electricity Came to Rochester

Unless a power failure happens, modern Rochester residents tend to take their electric service for granted. However, at the end of the nineteenth century, electric lights were a novelty enjoyed by few and coveted by many—until an interurban line came to town with the power to change everything. Clerks at work in the Rochester Edison building, September 1923. Rochester in the 1890s was a bustling place during the day, but the setting of the sun had a natural dampening effect on the level of … [Read more...]

Harry S. Tripp, One of Rochester’s Fallen Heroes, is Remembered

In Mount Avon Cemetery, an easily overlooked marker is tucked in front of the graves of Gold Star parents Harry and Fael Tripp. The small tablet memorializes the sacrifice of the Tripps’ son and Rochester native, Harry S. Tripp, whose remains lie in an American battlefield cemetery near Liege, Belgium. A small sign nestled in front of the gravestone of Harry and Fael Tripp at Mount Avon Cemetery memorializes the service and sacrifice of their son, Harry, in World War II. Harry and Fael … [Read more...]

Old Maps Reveal Interesting Truths You Might Not Know About Rochester

How well do you know your Rochester trivia? Old maps can be a treasure trove of information about a community’s history, and vintage maps of Rochester are no exception. A close examination of these nineteenth-century documents reveals three interesting tidbits about our area’s past. The intersection of Main Street and University Drive could logically be considered the “birthplace” of the village of Rochester. This intersection is a key location in Rochester’s history for two reasons. … [Read more...]

The Haven Sanitarium, World-Renowned Mental Health Hospital of Avon Township

Rochester-Avon Historical Society will present “The Haven Sanitarium” with historian and society president Tiffany Dziurman on Thursday, May 6 at 7:00 p.m. on the society’s online Zoom platform. Dziurman will share her latest research about The Haven Sanitarium, a world-renowned mental health hospital that operated from 1932 to 1968 in Avon Township (now Rochester Hills), MI. The hospital was located on what is now the Grosse Pines Subdivision on Walton Boulevard.  “The Haven has a unique … [Read more...]

The Woman’s Relief Corps Served Rochester for Generations

A quilt on display in the farmhouse at the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm is a window to the charitable work of a Rochester women’s organization that served the community for three-quarters of a century. The center panel of the WRC quilt identifies it as the product of Rochester post 227 (From the Archives of the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm). One year after the Civil War ended, the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was formed as a veterans’ advocacy and fraternal … [Read more...]