Tuesday, June 1, 2010

This Month in Rochester History

The Township of Avon (now Rochester Hills) established its first public park during the Great Depression, when federal funding to accomplish the work was available through New Deal programs. A fourteen-acre portion of the old John C. Day farm, lying along Paint Creek in the northwest section of the village of Rochester, was acquired for recreation purposes and opened to the public in the summer of 1935 as Avon Park (today's Rochester Municipal Park, off Ludlow St.).

The following summer, in June 1936, Rochester's Boy Scout Troop 39 undertook a project to beautify the new park and honor the twelve young men from the community who had earned the rank of Eagle Scout since 1927, the year in which Allen Wilson had become Rochester's first Eagle. During a Camporee program at the park on June 12, 1936, the boys of Troop 39, led by Luther Green, planted a pine grove with twelve young saplings - one pine tree in honor of each of the following Rochester Eagle Scouts:
  • Allen R. Wilson (1927)
  • Cecil O'Dell (1928)
  • Ralph Easterle (1929)
  • Marvin Terry (1930)
  • Floyd Cross (1930)
  • Maynard Aris (1930)
  • Kenneth Fraser (1930)
  • Donald B. Davidson (1932)
  • William Aris (1932)
  • Martin Marzolf (1932)
  • Morley Russell (1935)
  • Howard Lamphier (1936)
The pine grove still stands, east of the Community House, along the bank of Paint Creek. The little saplings that were planted 74 years ago this month are huge, tall trees now, and there are few people left who remember the ceremony with which they were placed. The story about the Eagle Scout pine grove faded into the pages of history until the summer of 2007, when the Rochester Avon Historical Society marked the trees with the names of the twelve original Eagle Scouts. The next time you visit the Rochester Municipal Park and walk among these pines, be sure to look up and take notice of the name plaque on each tree.


  1. On Friday nights (1960-1963) during the summer months my parents would pack a picnic dinner and we'd swim in the damned up part of Paint Creek. As I recall, the depth was probably around four feet or so in the middle. If I'm not mistaken, the park was closed to public swimming in 1964 due to E. coli contamination.