Saturday, October 1, 2011

This Month in Rochester History

Fifty years ago this month, the local newspaper was reporting that the community's oldest congregation, the First Congregational Church of Rochester, was moving into its new home at 1315 N. Pine St.  Dedication services for the new campus were held on October 8, 1961, and parishioners began a new chapter in their history after worshiping in the same building at the corner of Third & Walnut streets for 107 years.

Not only is this congregation the oldest in Rochester, having been organized in 1827,  but it is also the first and oldest congregation of its denomination in Michigan. The Rev. W. Isaac Ruggles, a circuit-riding missionary in what was then the Michigan territory, started the congregation with ten members who met in a log cabin south of the village of Rochester. In 1853, the Congregationalists built on the northwest corner of Third & Walnut and continued to meet at that location for over a century.

After the new church campus opened in the fall of 1961, the old church building on Walnut Street was sold. It was the home of the Rochester Elks lodge for a short time, and then suffered the indignity of being covered with a faux-castle facade and painted purple. The exterior has now been restored and the historic building currently houses a design firm.

1 comment:

  1. That was the family church growing up, parents went to the old one, I grew up attending the new one.