Saturday, September 24, 2011

At Home in Rochester: Joseph Reimer House

Rochester hardware merchant Joseph Reimer built this Italianate Victorian style house at 211 Walnut Street in the summer of 1878 as his personal family residence.  Reimer was born in Pennsylvania in 1826 and lived in Upper Mount Bethel township in Northampton County.  Several of his neighbors in that Pennsylvania community also emigrated to Rochester in the mid-19th century, including Azariah Ross, John Ross, Reuben Immick, Francis Stofflet, Dr. William Deats, and Elias Butts.

Joseph Reimer served briefly in the Civil War as the captain of a company in the 153rd Pennsylvania volunteer regiment.  When the war was over, he moved with his wife and four children to Rochester and established a hardware business. In 1878, he built this house on Walnut Street and in 1885 he built a brand-new brick building at 418 S. Main Street to house his store. (The hardware store building still stands today and is now the home of the Sumo Sushi restaurant.  Reimer sold his hardware to his son, Cyrus, and son-in-law, Alvin Bliss, in 1886; eventually, Harvey J. Taylor bought them out and moved the store to 335 S. Main.  Then, Charles W. Case bought out Taylor and the hardware firm became known as Case's Hardware.) Reimer also served the community as a member of the school board for Avon District #5, and as a justice of the peace.

Joseph Reimer died in 1896 and in 1917 his heirs sold the Walnut Street home to Elizabeth Butts Casey and her mother, Julia Bromley Butts.  The two women divided the house into apartments and used it as both a residence and an income property.  After Elizabeth Butts Casey Case died in 1973, her daughter Della Casey Wilson inherited the property, and when her heirs sold it in 1995, it had been in the Casey/Case family for 78 years, more than twice the number of years that the Reimer family owned it.  The house is currently vacant.


  1. I finally took a closer look at this house this fall. It appears to have been abandoned for awhile now as the gutters are full of weeds and the plaster falling from the ceiling. I can't believe the city would allow this property to fall into such horrible shape.

  2. Who owns it now. The city is supposed to contact the owner to fix up property (in this case, the weeds in the gutters). If the house is going to be rented, the city won't give a license until the building is up to code.