Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Subdivision Stories: North Hill

One of the biggest post-war housing developments in the then-village of Rochester was the North Hill Subdivision, approved in 1955. Located west of Rochester Road and south of Tienken, the subdivision lay partially in the village and partially in the Township of Avon. At the time, there was a huge demand for affordable housing for veterans seeking to relocate from the city to the suburbs, and in particular, housing north of the village was in demand because of its desirable proximity to National Twist Drill, the community's leading employer during the post-war era.

North Hill was planned as a $7 million dollar development which included 220 affordable ranch homes and a 160,000 square foot shopping center to be anchored by a Wrigley supermarket. The project was developed by Sam Frankel, executive vice-president of Wrigley's Stores, Inc., and Richard Reitman of the Beverly Construction Company. The homes were marketed by the Rose Hill Realty Company of Detroit.

The Rochester Clarion described the plans for the layout of the subdivision in May of 1955:
Taking advantage of the natural rolling countryside, the builder is erecting the homes on curvilinear paved streets, with each street elevated about the other to give the hillside community the striking appearance of an outdoor stadium.
Buyers were given their choice of ten possible exterior designs. Descriptions of the interior features and finishes give a glimpse of what was attractive to homeowners at the time:
In the spacious kitchen, knotty pine paneling forms a backdrop for the dining area. The large-sized cabinets are also finished in knotty pine with hammered copper hardware.
Buyers are given a choice of formica or tile counter tops and a choice of color in the floor linoleum which also covers the grade landing and basement stairs.
A shadow box above the basement staircase provides and unusual decorative effect, and a farm door at the grade landing prevents children from falling down the basement stairs.
A folding door separates the kitchen from the large living-dining room. A shadow box heightens the attractiveness of the vestibule entrance to the living room.
Apparently, these amenities were more than enough to bring in the buyers. The new homes in North Hill were priced from $15,690, and the terms were $790 down for veterans, $2190 for civilians. On the first weekend that the models were open in May of 1955, over 4,600 people visited the development and over half a million dollars of business was transacted in two days' time.

The North Hill subdivision celebrates its 55th birthday this year.

This advertisement for the North Hill subdivision ran in the Rochester Clarion in May of 1955.

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