Saturday, June 16, 2012

Main Street Stories: Amariah Trowbridge/Julian S. Peters House

Trowbridge/Peters house ca. 1904 (before addition)
Earlier in Rochester's history, their were numerous dwellings interspersed among the commercial buildings in Main Street's business district.  In 2012, only one of those houses remains standing, and that is the Amariah Trowbridge/Julian S. Peters house at 200 S. Main, occupied today by the Chomp Deli & Grille.

The exact date that Amariah Trowbridge built his house at the south end of Main Street is not known, and deeds for the property are somewhat murky, but we do know that the first year that Trowbridge appears on the tax rolls as owner of this property is 1864. Trowbridge was born in Steuben County, New York in 1830, and came to Oakland County with his parents. When the Civil War erupted, he enlisted in Company G, 22nd Michigan Infantry, and was later transferred to Company G, 29th Michigan Infantry.  He lived in Rochester from his return from the Civil War until his death in 1886, and was an employee of the Barnes Brothers Paper Mill during that entire time.

After Trowbridge died, one of his comrades in arms purchased a portion of the property - not including the house -  from his estate. Julian S. Peters,  who had served with Trowbridge in Company G, 22nd Michigan Infantry and later with Company G, 29th Michigan Infantry, bought the north half of the lot on which the house stood and conducted a carriage painting business there. The south half of the lot, on which the house stood (corner of Second Street) was originally sold to other parties, but in 1904, Julian Peters bought that as well.
On November 18, 1904, the Rochester Era carried this item about the house:
J.S. Peters is overhauling the old Trowbridge house. He will raise the roof three feet, drop the building and place a good cellar under it, making a neat tenement house of it.
Later, Peters also built a one-and-a-half story addition to the north side of the house.

Julian Peters served as Avon Township Clerk in 1874-75 and also served 21 years as Justice of the Peace in Rochester. Peters was proud that during his years as Justice of the Peace, not one of the thousands of cases he tried was ever reversed on appeal. After retiring from public service, he conducted a real estate and insurance business. He owned the property at 200 S. Main St. until his death in 1931, when it was sold by his heirs.

In 1945, Rochester automobile dealer C. Lawrence Jerome bought the property and converted the house to office space for the Jerome Insurance Agency. That business was known as the Jerome-Hill Insurance agency in the 1950s, and later as the Hudson G. Hill Agency until the late 1970s. The house has also been occupied, at various times, by Teague Finance, GAC Finance, H&R Block, and Rochester Accounting and Tax Service. The Chomp Deli & Grille opened there in May 2010, following the Beyond Juice restaurant at the location.

The Trowbridge/Peters house is significant as the only remaining example of a mid-19th century dwelling remaining in the business district of Main Street. It serves to remind us what the village's Main Street looked like in those days.

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