Saturday, July 30, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
|Postcard view of the Opera House block about 1910|
The man behind the construction of the Opera House block was Charles A. Burr (1857-1934). Burr was one of eight sons of German immigrants Louis and Eliza Gendrick Burr, who came to America in 1850 and soon thereafter settled in Sterling Township in Macomb County. Charles Burr was truly a "man of all trades" and had a varied career that followed several occupational paths. He started out as a school teacher, traveled to California in 1876 to mine gold for three years, then returned to the Utica area to run a hardware business. He brought his hardware business to Rochester in 1882 and also served as the town postmaster for a time. Among the other businesses he engaged in while in Rochester were undertaking, men's clothing, real estate, and fire insurance; he also served as an agent for the local express company.
C.A. Burr's diversified business interests must have served him well. He built the substantial business block at Fourth & Main in 1890, providing retail space on the first floor and an entertainment and public meeting venue, known simply as the Opera House, on the second floor. He also founded the Bank of Rochester along with partner A.F. Newberry, and was financially interested in several other banks in the greater Detroit area.
At the same time that Charles Burr was building his new block, his brother Frank H. Burr, was building a two-store block immediately to the south of the Opera House block. At the close of 1890, the two Burr brothers controlled the first four storefronts south of Fourth on the east side of Main. Ten years later, in 1900, another of their brothers, George Burr, would join them as members of the merchant community in Rochester.
The Opera House block, with its signature Richardsonian arches which were restored by owner Robert A. Lytle in 1986-87, is still one of the most recognizable structures in any image of Main Street. The building was listed on the State Register of Historic Places and received a Michigan Historical Marker in 1991. The Opera House block celebrates its 121st birthday this year.
Posted by Remembering Rochester at 8:36 AM
Saturday, July 16, 2011
|1975 Clarion ad for Petker's Place|
Petker's location directly across Livernois from Rochester High School made it a natural hang-out for the high school set during my teen years. As I recall, it was the bar of choice for senior class members who were of legal age (eighteen in those days) and looking for a liquid lunch. It was also the favorite after-rehearsal watering hole for a certain church choir that I know of. If you have memories of Petker's and would like to share them, please post a comment.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Gebert Hardware closed in the mid-1960s, as did competitor Burr Hardware, a few doors up the block; a devastating fire did in Case's Hardware in 1968. Hardware chains soon took over the territory once owned by these family-operated stores.
The accompanying ad for Gebert Hardware appeared in the 1957 Rochester area telephone book and is provided courtesy of Rod and Susan Wilson.
Posted by Remembering Rochester at 7:00 AM
Saturday, July 2, 2011
|Masonic Block as it looked in 1978|
Not long after it was built, an addition was made to the rear of the Masonic block to house George Burr's implement warehouse; this space later became the location of the Rochester Post Office, and was used for that purpose until a new building was erected on the corner of Walnut and Fourth in 1937. Over the years, the Masonic block has housed the Rochester Savings Bank, a Kroger grocery store, Carpenter's Men's Wear, the Lucille Shoppe, the Bright Ideas home furnishings store, and a number of boutique businesses on the first floor. After the Masonic lodge departed the second floor it was used for professional offices (Justice of the Peace Luther Green had his law office there for many years), and the Rochester School of Ballet, among other things.
The Masonic Block was listed on the State Register of Historic Places in 1987 and has a Michigan State Historic Marker on the south wall. The building celebrates its 112th birthday this year.
Posted by Remembering Rochester at 7:00 AM
Friday, July 1, 2011
Fifty years ago this month, the Rochester Clarion was telling its readers about the latest exploits of a Rochester resident who was a very familiar face to the community's youth. Lt. Col. Leroy Clark Felton came to Rochester in 1948 to accept a position as industrial arts teacher at Rochester High School. Felton had enlisted in the Army Air Force in 1942 and spent fifteen months in the Pacific theater flying the P-51/F-51 fighter. In 1951, he joined the 403rd Troop Carrier Wing, U.S. Air Force Reserve, at Selfridge Air Force Base, where he served as the unit's Director of Operations, and he later went on to serve as commander of the 911th Military Airlift Group. Mr. Felton retired from the Air Force Reserve at the rank of full colonel in 1979 and relocated from Rochester to Florida, where he died in 2006. In recognition of his long military service, his ashes were inurned at Arlington National Cemetery. If you remember Mr. Felton and would like to read more about him, click here.