Saturday, June 2, 2012

Vanished Rochester: The John H. Hawken Residence

John H. Hawken House, 131 E. Fourth St., in 1977
John H. Hawken House, 131 E. Fourth St., in 1897
This large Victorian home stood on the northwest corner of Fourth and East streets, where a municipal parking lot is located today.  It was built in 1895 by John H. Hawken II, as his family residence.  According to the pamphlet Beautiful Rochester, which was published in 1897 and carried an item about Mr. Hawken along with a photograph of his home, Hawken was born in Ontario in 1871. He came to Rochester with his father's family in 1880 and went to work in the woolen mill, rising quickly to the position of assistant superintendent of the Western Knitting Mills after that company moved to Rochester from Detroit.  Beautiful Rochester described John H. Hawken as "one of the rising young men of the village," and that certainly appears to have been an accurate assessment.  Hawken was only 24 years old when he built this house, which he shared with his widowed mother and siblings until 1900, when he married Catherine "Kittie" Cullen. The couple had one child, William Cullen Hawken, who later became a physician in Detroit.  Tragically, John H. Hawken did not live to see his only son; he died of tuberculosis in April 1902 at the age of 31, a few months before the birth of his child.  According to his death certificate, Hawken was superintendent of the Western Knitting Mills at the time of his demise.

Following the death of John Hawken, the house on East Fourth Street was purchased by William O. Brewster;  in the 1930s, Elizabeth Butts Casey (later Case) bought it and converted it to an apartment house. The Hawken house served as an apartment building to the end of its days, which came in late 1977, when it was razed to make way for a municipal parking lot and thus passed into the pages of Vanished Rochester.

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