Saturday, March 22, 2014

At Home in Rochester: William Shulter Starring House

This house on the southwest corner of West University Drive and Wilcox Street has historical connections to two long-time Rochester businessmen. It was built in the summer of 1916 as the family home of Rochester druggist William Shulter Starring, who operated Starring's Drug Store at 321 S. Main St. from approximately 1887 until 1923. The Rochester Era newspaper reported in early June 1916 that Starring had broken ground for a new bungalow on West Fifth Street (now University Drive), and updated its readers a week later with the news that the basement of the new house had been completed. The Starrings moved into their new home in October 1916. After retiring from the pharmacy business, they sold the property in 1924 to another prominent Rochester businessman, Charles Louis Sterns, and his wife Rena.

Charles L. Sterns operated the Idle Hour Theatre on Main Street, and in 1936 remodeled it, installed a new Art Deco facade, and re-christened it the Avon Theatre. In 1942, with Rochester's demand for movie seats increasing, Sterns opened the  Hills Theatre on the opposite side of Main Street.  The Avon closed in the early 1950s and the Hills continued as Main Street's only movie venue until it went dark in 1984.

Rochester Avon Historical Society is currently working on a project to bring back the Hills Theatre. Read about the Society's progress in this story from this week's Rochester Post.

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