This Month in Rochester History

Clarion photo of the school bus yard after the big snow of '65

Not to jinx us, but this month's post is about a weather event.  Fifty years ago this month, Rochester residents were busy digging out from the Blizzard of 1965.  A foot of snow was dropped on the area, carried by 50-mile-an-hour winds.  According to the Rochester Clarion's report, schools, factories and most downtown businesses were closed for two days.  The snow removal cost the village of Rochester $4455 and 742 man hours. This story originally appeared on … [Read more...]

Parallel Lives: The Hamlins and the Woodwards

hamlins and woodwards title

If you live in the greater Rochester area, you are invited to the next public meeting of the Rochester Avon Historical Society on Thursday, February 5 at 7:00 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room of the Rochester Hills Public Library. Your blog author will present "Parallel Lives: the Hamlins and the Woodwards," an illustrated program that will examine the lives and legacies of two of the Rochester area's pioneer families. The program is free and open to the public and anyone interested in the … [Read more...]

Remembering a Bad Day at Home Bakery

bakery crash 1965

Monday, January 18, 1965 was supposed to be a big day at the Home Bakery. The store was set to re-open after having been closed two weeks for interior renovations, but events didn't unfold quite the way the owners had planned. It was a zero-degree day in Rochester, and a patron of Bebout's Restaurant, up the street, decided to leave his Thunderbird at the curb with the engine running while he popped into Bebout's for some breakfast. A short time later, witnesses saw the T-bird rolling down … [Read more...]

Tribute to Tom Thomas, Owner of Ram’s Horn, Rochester Hills


To friends, family, and anyone that met him, Tom George Thomas was more than an average guy. Born in Detroit, Michigan on June 12, 1928 to two Greek Nationals, Thomas learned to “seize the day” from an early age. When he was only nine years old, Thomas was spotted jumping off the Belle Isle Bridge into the Detroit River to join his older brother Manuel who was swimming across the channel. He was mentioned by name in Neil Shine’s famous book about a family growing up in Detroit during the … [Read more...]

New York Carpet World

Marvin Berlin opened New York Carpet World in 1967. Along with his partner, Irving Nusbaum, Berlin grew the chain to an impressive 250 stores in 17 states, including Michigan, making it the top source for household flooring. Harry Levine added; "I worked for this company for 6 years and have been in the flooring industry for 40 years. My family was in the flooring business since the late 40′s. “New York Carpet World” was started as “New York Linolieum” , a small store on Haper … [Read more...]

The History of Kern’s Department Store


The Ernst Kern Dry Good Company, was a department store established in Detroit in 1883. In 1886, the original store was consumed by fire and was rebuilt at Randolph and Monroe. In 1900, the company purchased a five story building at Woodward and Gratiot to accommodate increasing business. After World War I, additional space was once again needed for expansion, and the department store acquired the adjoining nine-story Weber Building. In 1929, the store was demolished and a new store was erected. … [Read more...]

Joshua Doore Furniture

In 1973, Harvey Leach opened the doors to Joshua Doore and, for years, drew in customers with the charming slogan “You’ve got an uncle in the furniture business.” A few years later, amid the company’s transformation into Uncle Robinson Furniture, Leach was found dead in the trunk of his car, allegedly as a result of financial challenges. … [Read more...]

A Look Back at Gantos

Lebanese immigrant Theodore Gantos long dreamed of opening his own linen store, and when the devastation of the Great Depression ended, he did just that. With his wife, Haseebie, he opened the first Gantos store in Grand Rapids in 1932. Over the next few decades, the store shifted gears to become a successful women’s-wear boutique before going out of business in 2000. … [Read more...]

Grinnell’s Pianos


Once known as the largest piano factory on the earth, Grinnell’s Pianos opened its doors in Holly, Michigan, in 1913. The company lasted for nearly a century, thanks in part to its quality pianos and to its consistent community involvement hosting annual statewide music festivals. … [Read more...]

Hughes & Hatcher

In 1910, Fred Hughes and Leslie Hatcher opened their clothing store in downtown Detroit, and it soon became the top name in gentlemen’s fine apparel. Aside from its stupendously stylish suits, Hughes & Hatcher was known for having the largest display windows in town. More about Hughes and Hatcher here … [Read more...]