How Ludlow Street Got its Name

Street and building names in a town often memorialize the people who helped to create them, but as time goes on and memories fade, the stories behind those names can become lost. Take, for example, Rochester’s Ludlow Street. Do you know for what or whom it is named?  The story of Ludlow Street starts with the Chapman family. William Clark Chapman and his brother, Charles Sherwin Chapman, grew up in and around Ludlow, Vermont. When William was 16 years old, the Chapman family moved from … [Read more...]

Olympic Ski Jumping in Rochester

The History and Connection of Olympic Ski Jumping in the Rochester Area As unlikely as it may seem, ski jumping was a big attraction in the Rochester area during the Roaring Twenties. The sport had grown in popularity in America as it spread from the mountainous western states to the Midwest. Here in Michigan, the Upper Peninsula town of Ishpeming had a famous ski jump and hosted many high-profile tournaments. Six brothers from Ishpeming with a keen interest in the sport brought ski … [Read more...]

Water-Powered Mills of the Rochester Area

Mill Town Heritage of Rochester and Avon Township The real estate professional’s mantra that “location is everything” was as true in Rochester’s pioneer days as it is today. Long before the James Graham party led white settlers to today’s Oakland County, its hospitable lakes and streams and the excellent fishing they offered drew native people to the area. Water also attracted the Grahams and those who followed them. It was an essential element to sustain life, and it would power the new … [Read more...]

Historic Michigan Kit Houses by Mail

The Rochester-Avon Historical Society presents “Kit Houses by Mail” Melodie Nichols, Curator of the Clawson Historical Museum  From 1906 through the 1980s it was possible to purchase an entire house through the mail. There are many of these kit homes in downtown Rochester and in surrounding communities. Join fellow local history enthusiasts at the Rochester-Avon Historical Society’s monthly meeting on Thursday, February 1 at 7:00 p.m. at the Rochester Hills Public Library, 500 Olde Town Road, … [Read more...]

Christmas 1942 in Rochester, Remembering the Fight and Loss of the War

Virginia MacLeod and Christmas 1942 in Rochester  Seventy-five years ago, Rochester’s Christmas season was a memorable one – for a tragic reason. The end of the first year of the Second World War brought with it rationing restrictions, worries about absent loved ones, and the shock of a wartime-related death that happened not overseas, but right here at home.  There were no big, bright holiday lights on Rochester’s Main Street in December 1942. The news from the fighting fronts was … [Read more...]

The Native American Indians of Michigan and their Connection to the Rochester Area

As Rochester marks the 200th anniversary of its founding this year, have you ever wondered about the native people who lived here before white settlement?  According to The Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History, our area’s indigenous population was very small two centuries ago. By the time that James Graham’s family and other pioneers settled Rochester and Avon in 1817, many of the Native American residents of the area had already moved on.  Most European-ancestored settlers did not venture … [Read more...]

Gail Kemler Celebrates a Century

Rochester is marking the 200th anniversary of its founding this year, and local resident Gail Kemler has witnessed almost half of the town’s two centuries of history. Kemler, of Rochester Hills, is planning to celebrate her 100th birthday at the end of this month, in the company of scores of family and friends. Gail Johnson Kemler was born October 28, 1917 in Brookfield, Illinois, where her father worked on a railroad line. When Kemler was four years old, her mother became seriously ill and … [Read more...]

Potere-Modetz Funeral Home is One of Rochester’s Oldest Businesses

Although it has been known by several different names throughout its history, the roots of the Potere-Modetz Funeral Home go back 137 years in Rochester. Along with the Rochester Elevator, the funeral home qualifies as one of the town’s oldest businesses. It all started around 1880, when William Harvey Greene went into the furniture and undertaking business in Rochester. Within three years’ time, he was successful enough to build a brand new store at 311 S. Main (now the location of Haig’s of … [Read more...]

Frank Rewold & Son Has Been Building Rochester Since 1918

Jason Rewold began working in his family’s business as soon as he was old enough to swing a hammer. He followed a tradition that goes back four generations in the Frank Rewold & Son construction company.  The firm traces its history back to 1918, when Frank M. Rewold worked for auto magnate John Dodge and his wife, Matilda, at their Meadow Brook Farm on Adams Road. The senior Rewold was a jack-of-all-trades handyman for the Dodges. He built and maintained many of the barns and farm … [Read more...]

How Crittenton Hospital Came to Rochester

Crittenton Hospital in Rochester Hills Celebrates its 50th Birthday on August 15 It took ten years to be born. In April 1957, a group of local business and professional people formed a committee to discuss bringing a new hospital to the area. At the time, Rochester had only a small osteopathic facility called Avon Center Hospital, located near the corner of Rochester & Avon roads. Avon Center opened in 1954 with 20 beds – and later expanded to 40 – but lacked many of the services that the … [Read more...]