Saturday, September 20, 2014

At Home in Rochester: The Albertson House

The Albertson house standing on North Main just before it was moved in 1953
On the south side of Ferndale Street, just west of North Main, stands a lovely house that fits beautifully with its surrounding neighbors.  The Woodward Heights subdivision, of which Ferndale is a part, was platted in 1920, so one could be forgiven for thinking that all of the houses on the street date from that time or later.

In fact, this particular house, originally part of the Albertson farm, is far older than its neighbors on Ferndale street.  The house originally stood on the west side of North Main, just north of the location of today's Rochester Athletic Club (or the old A & P supermarket for those of you who haven't been to town in a while).  When the supermarket site was being prepared for construction in February 1953, three dwellings that stood north of the property were sold off and moved so that the hill could be cut down and used as fill for the low-lying land on which the store would stand.  The Dr. Godfrey Hamlen house was moved to North Oak Street, where it still stands today; the Albertson house and one other were moved to Ferndale Street.

The Rochester Clarion, in reporting on the moving of the houses in 1953, remarked that the Albertson house was "built at least 90 years ago."  If the Clarion's estimate was at all accurate, the Albertson house was originally built around 1863, making it one of Rochester's oldest homes.

The Albertson family farmed a 56-acre parcel of land bounded on the east by North Main Street and on the north by what we know today as Woodward Street. Most of the farm land was platted and sold in 1900 as the Albertson Addition, creating the streets of Albertson, Griggs and Drace.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Record Harvest

With all of the growth and development that has happened in our community over the past half century, it is sometimes difficult to picture the Rochester area's agricultural heritage. But it really wasn't so long ago that the farmers of Avon, Oakland and Shelby were a strong economic presence here.  Witness this check, written by the Rochester Elevator in August 1953, in payment for what was at that time the largest single wheat crop that the elevator had ever purchased.  The seller was William A. Fisher, owner of a 250-acre farm on the southwest corner of Rochester & Avon roads. Fisher had been the president and one of the founders of the Fisher Body Works, and used his Avon Township farm as a country retreat when he wanted to get away from city life.

This check represented the proceeds from the sale of 9,310 bushels of wheat and a yield per acre from the Fisher farm of 38 bushels. The Rochester Clarion, which published this check on its front page in 1953, noted that the yield would have been much higher if Fisher's wheat crop had not been seriously damaged by a tornado in mid-June of that year.

Monday, September 1, 2014

This Month in Rochester History

In September 1964, Rochester saw the construction of a new church building when Ridgecrest Baptist Church broke ground for a new sanctuary at 1181 Harding Road. Built by Larry Aulgur of Utica, the facility included a 200-seat sanctuary and classrooms.  Members of the congregation did much of the finish work on the building themselves. 

Ridgecrest Baptist was started as a mission church by Columbia Avenue Baptist Church of Pontiac and first met in the old Masonic block on East Fourth in downtown Rochester.The congregation was dissolved in 1995, and the building became the home of the New Life Baptist Church, and after that the Goodnews  - Detroit Church.