Saturday, January 25, 2014

Subdivision Stories: Hamlin Place Farms

The Hamlin Place Farms subdivision was laid out on the north side of Hamlin Road, straddling Rochester Road, in late 1916.  It was located on a portion of what was historically the John Fairchild Hamlin farm, a pioneer farmstead in Avon Township since the 1830s. The Hamlin farm at its peak encompassed more than 500 acres; after the death of John Fairchild Hamlin and his wife, Laura Andrus Hamlin, ownership of the property passed to his daughter Belle, who was the wife of Judge Marsden C. Burch.

The Burches did not live in Avon Township on a full-time basis. Marsden Burch was a judge in Osceola County, Michigan, and later located in Grand Rapids, where he was U.S. District Attorney for the western district of Michigan. In 1897, President William McKinley appointed him an assistant Attorney General of the United States, and he and his wife moved to Washington, D.C.  They visited Rochester regularly to look after their farm interests, which were managed by tenants, and to vacation during the summers in the old Hamlin homestead, which they affectionately called "Oldhome."

The Oldhome property was reserved for the Burches' use when they sold off portions of the old farm for development, and the Hamlin house in which they lived until their respective deaths still stands at 1812 S. Rochester Road. The one and only side street in Hamlin Place Farms ran north from Hamlin Road, west of Rochester Road, and was called Burch Street for the property owners; it was renamed Crestline in 1950.

This 1917 advertisement for the lots in the Hamlin Place Farms subdivision refers to this portion of Avon Township as "Rochester Heights." It also makes reference to deed restrictions which were fairly common during this era, usually prohibiting sale of lots to people of color or to people of certain religious beliefs. Deed restrictions based on race or religion were widely used to enforce segregation in the days before federal law prohibited such discriminatory practices.

Thanks to Rod and Susan Wilson for providing the Hamlin Place Farms advertisement shown here.

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