Saturday, January 12, 2013

Subdivision Stories: Wilcox Addition

In the city of Rochester, the lots lying north of West University Drive, on the west side of Madison and both sides of Wilcox Street, are part of a modern subdivision plat known as Supervisor's Plat #3, but a century ago and earlier they were part of an unrecorded plat known as the Wilcox Addition.  The Wilcox Addition lies on property that was once owned by early Rochester settler Lyman J. Wilcox and his son, Elliot R. Wilcox. (In addition to his roles of attorney, state legislator and officer of the Detroit & Bay City Railroad, Elliot R. Wilcox was a prosperous farmer who owned the entire area that we know today as Great Oaks.)

A subdivision plat must be presented to the local government authority and receive a vote of approval before being recorded as an official plat in the county register of deeds office.  The Wilcox Addition was laid out in the middle 1880s, but was never approved and recorded in the register of deeds office. Although numbered lots in the Wilcox Addition were sold, the deeds for those lots were still recorded as fractional acreage described in metes and bounds terms, rather than as lots in a plat.  This did not change until 1949, when the Supervisor of Avon Township imposed order by creating Supervisor's Plat #3, officially organizing the lots in a recorded subdivision plat.

One of the most interesting points of history in the Wilcox Addition is the Wilcox Paper Mill that was built in that area in 1873 by Elliot R. Wilcox. Here's how the Rochester Era described the building when it was under construction:
Mr. E. R. Wilcox has made arrangements for the erection of a new paper mill, a short distance north of the Eureka Mills, having let the contract for the construction of the buildings to Mr. J. W. Eastman, of this village. The main building which with the exception of a stone basement will be of brick, 32x48, and two stories high. The machine room will be 24x80, bleaching room 20x24, and engine room 12x24. The location of this mill is one of the finest in the country, while the water power, being 17 feet fall, cannot well be surpassed. The work we understand will be pushed forward to an early completion.
This mill went through several owners and was never an economic success. It was destroyed by fire in 1901.  The Wilcox Paper Mill stood approximately between the northern dead end of today's Wilcox Street and the Rochester Community House.  Traces of the mill race for the paper mill are still visible along the edge of the parking area in the Rochester Municipal Park.

The accompanying map image shows the unrecorded Wilcox Addition as it appeared on the 1908 plat of the village of Rochester.

1 comment:

  1. I love this blog...can you do a post about the Avon Country Market? I have always wondered about that place...