Sunday, May 1, 2016

This Month in Rochester History

Fifty years ago this month, Rochester took a big step forward in the redevelopment of the old Chapman mill pond lake bed.  The property lying east of the railroad track in downtown Rochester had been under water until June 1946, when a spring storm caused the bermage around the Western Knitting Mills dam to fail, thereby draining the pond.  The dam was never rebuilt, the old lake bed was filled, and the property lay vacant for two decades before plans for the parcel began to take shape in the mid-1960s.

In 1966, the former mill pond area was undergoing development and the Rochester Elks Club planned a $300,000 lodge building on the property.  The single-story building would include a dining room, banquet room, cocktail lounge, and two meeting rooms, plus an office and lobby.  A patio overlooking Paint Creek was also planned.  In May 1966, the official groundbreaking for the new Elks Club building was held.  The building stood until about 2003, when it was demolished to make room for the construction of the Royal Park Hotel, which now stands on the site.