Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bygone Business: Yates Machine Shop

A business that anchored the foot of Main Street, Rochester for more than three decades was the Yates Machine Shop. The advertisement shown here ran in the Rochester Era on June 4, 1920 announcing that A. W. Yates had purchased the former Jackson Foundry on South Main Street and planned to expand the business. The Jackson Foundry had been operated by John F. and Samuel B. Jackson and originated with the brothers' father, W.H. Jackson, who had come to Rochester in 1877 and purchased the old Jennings Foundry. The Jennings Foundry, in turn, had been one of Rochester's pioneer industries.

The original foundry building had burned in 1884 while being operated by the Jacksons, and had been immediately rebuilt. It was substantially rebuilt yet again by A. W. Yates in the 1920s and was expanded more than once over the decades of Yates ownership.  Yates Machine Shop was a defense contractor during World War II and won the coveted Army-Navy E Award for excellence in production of war equipment.  The business closed in the late 1950s.

After the machine shop closed, several small industrial concerns occupied the former Yates building at 115 S. Main.  In 1970, the building was remodeled and redeveloped as the Gateway Center, and now houses a mixture of retailers, restaurants and professional offices.

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