Monday, October 5, 2009

Subdivision Stories: W.C. Chapman Addition

One of Rochester's early real estate developers was William Clark Chapman (1866-1946), who with his older brother, Charles Sherwin Chapman (1864-1912), brought the Western Knitting Mills to Rochester in 1891. Both men made their home in Rochester after locating the WKM here, and both built fine residences in the village. In March 1899, William C. Chapman platted and sold land lying north of Fifth Street (now University Drive) near Paint Creek as the W.C. Chapman Addition. This plat consisted of six lots facing Fifth Street and seven pairs of lots lying to the immediate north of Fifth Street along a side street to be named Ludlow. This street was named in honor of the Vermont birthplace of William C. Chapman's wife, Ada Josephine Barney Chapman. William Chapman himself was born in Cavendish, Vermont, the town neighboring Ludlow. (The Chapman family had many friends and relatives in Ludlow, Vermont, and visited there often. At their deaths, both Chapman brothers were interred in a Ludlow cemetery near their parents' graves.)

At the time that the W.C. Chapman Addition was laid out and sold, there was great economic potential in developing land on the north side of the village. The Detroit Sugar Company was in the process of building a huge beet sugar processing plant on what is known today as Woodward Street, and an interurban streetcar line was laying track toward Rochester at the same time. Chapman's 1946 obituary commented that, having experienced a housing shortage for workers when he and his brother brought the Western Knitting Mills to town in 1891, he decided to invest in real estate and housing development when the Detroit Sugar Company faced a similar situation nearly a decade later.

Ludlow Avenue was extended to the north by two later plats of the land adjoining the W.C. Chapman Addition, and eventually ran all the way to Paint Creek, where it was connected to Woodward Street.

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