How Wilcox Street Was Named

Do you know the story behind the name of Rochester’s Wilcox Street? Early Avon Township settler Lyman J. Willcox and his son Elliot R. Willcox owned part of the land through which Wilcox Street now runs. According to an 1883 account in the Pontiac Gazette, Lyman Willcox left New York City with nothing but a rifle and a pack on his back and walked westward, traversing Ontario, and finally coming to Michigan. He stopped first in Troy Township and then settled in Avon Township in 1824, where … [Read more...]

How Ludlow Street Got its Name

Street and building names in a town often memorialize the people who helped to create them, but as time goes on and memories fade, the stories behind those names can become lost. Take, for example, Rochester’s Ludlow Street. Do you know for what or whom it is named?  The story of Ludlow Street starts with the Chapman family. William Clark Chapman and his brother, Charles Sherwin Chapman, grew up in and around Ludlow, Vermont. When William was 16 years old, the Chapman family moved from … [Read more...]

Olympic Ski Jumping in Rochester

The History and Connection of Olympic Ski Jumping in the Rochester Area As unlikely as it may seem, ski jumping was a big attraction in the Rochester area during the Roaring Twenties. The sport had grown in popularity in America as it spread from the mountainous western states to the Midwest. Here in Michigan, the Upper Peninsula town of Ishpeming had a famous ski jump and hosted many high-profile tournaments. Six brothers from Ishpeming with a keen interest in the sport brought ski … [Read more...]

Healthcare in Rochester with Doctor Siffring Before Crittenton Hospital

Dr. Loren Siffring Remembers Small-Town Medicine Later this summer marks the 50th anniversary of the day that Crittenton Hospital opened its doors to its very first patient. Today, area residents have a wide array of state-of-the-art healthcare facilities and practitioners available nearby. The situation was very different, however, when Dr. Loren W. Siffring first came to town. A friendship forged in the Air Force brought Dr. Siffring to Rochester. He was a native of Colorado, where he … [Read more...]

Whims Insurance Celebrates a Century in Rochester

By Deborah J. Larsen When Tom Klix and his sister, Connie Klix Mercer, head to their offices at Whims Insurance each morning, they take a literal walk down memory lane. The company’s offices are on the second floor of the Mitzelfeld building at 322 S. Main Street. The municipal parking lot behind the building sits on property that was once the home of Klix and Mercer’s grandparents, Leslie and Lyla Whims. The two siblings now run the insurance agency their grandfather founded. They … [Read more...]

Byers Wrecker Service has Hooked-up the Rochester Area for Decades

Byers Wrecker Service Has Been Assisting Rochester Motorists for Decades By Deborah J. Larsen When Rochester area residents need a vehicle towed, they don’t say, “Call a wrecker.” They say, “Call Byers.” For 66 years, the familiar red tow trucks have responded to local residents needing assistance. Harry E. “Gene” Byers started out in auto transport work after serving in the army. But in 1951, he decided to start his own towing business. At first, his “office” was in the restroom of a … [Read more...]

Molnar’s has been Helping Rochester Dress to Impress since 1964

A revolution and a chance meeting with a local entrepreneur were the forces that brought Hungarian-born tailor Frank Molnar to Rochester 52 years ago. Molnar opened his menswear shop on Rochester’s Main Street in 1964 at a time when the standard work uniform for businessmen was the three-piece suit. Molnar possessed the requisite skills to build a successful family firm from the local demand for quality men’s clothing. In his native country, Molnar was apprenticed to a tailor at the age … [Read more...]

Lytle Pharmacy is Rochester’s Oldest Drug Store

No living person in the Rochester area remembers when there wasn’t a pharmacy located in the Opera House block at the corner of Fourth & Main streets. Ever since the building first opened its doors in 1890, a pharmacy sign has been hanging in its front window. Robert A. Lytle is the current - and longest tenured - proprietor of the drug store business that was operated by John T. Norton when the Opera House block welcomed its first tenants 126 years ago. When Charles A. Burr built the … [Read more...]

How The Old Stone Store became The Home Bakery

The Old Stone Store: A Remnant of Rochester’s Pioneer Era By Deborah J. Larsen Few Rochester residents remember a time when the venerable stone store at the corner of Third and Main streets was not a bakery. History reveals, however, that the iconic building has served a wide variety of tenants in its 167 years. Rochester’s oldest commercial structure, known to us as the Home Bakery building, was called “The Old Stone Store” by generations of earlier residents. It was built in 1849 for … [Read more...]