Saturday, May 5, 2012

At Home in Rochester: Edward S. Barnes Residence

Edward S. Barnes built this house at the corner of Second and Pine streets as his personal residence in 1906.  Oral history says that this house, along with the Clinton G. Griffey house on University Drive and the Burton McCafferty house on Fourth Street, were all constructed with brick reclaimed from the demolition of the Detroit Sugar Company mill. The mill was dismantled in the spring and summer of 1906, and brick were salvaged and sold locally. The Barnes house, as well as the Griffey and McCafferty houses, were all built during this time.

Ed Barnes at Rochester Junction (Courtesy of Rod and Susan Wilson)
Edward S. Barnes was born in Hope, New Jersey in 1857 and migrated to Avon Township with his parents. In his youth, he was employed in the old Barnes Brothers paper mill, and then spent two decades as station agent and telegrapher at Rochester Junction on the Michigan Central Railroad line. During this time, he built a steam inspection car of his own design and used it as a personal vehicle to travel up and down the railroad line. The little car drew considerable attention, and a story about it was featured in several national magazines (click here to read one of them).

In 1903, Barnes decided to retire from the railroad and enter the jewelry business in Rochester. He built a store at 309 S. Main street, and three years later, built this house at Second and Pine. He sold his business around 1925 and died in his home in Rochester in 1931, at the age of 74.

This view of the Edward S. Barnes house was published in the 1907 Rochester directory.


  1. The caption of the bottom picture reads "Ed Barnes at Rochester Junction." Is the location shown in the picture the same location of the Rochester Junction wagon shops in the 1970s and 80s?

  2. The Rochester Junction referred to in the Barnes article concerns a location east of the village of Rochester where the Michigan Central railroad tracks crossed the Grand Trunk tracks (hence "Junction"). The Rochester Junction of the 1970s and 1980s was a shopping area located on North Main Street in some retired railroad cars that had been parked on a siding there. That location was not a railroad junction - the name was just an affectation for business purposes.