This Tour QR
This Tour

Rochester-Lost History

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Much of Rochester's history has been lost to time. Water, once the workhouse of Rochester: powering numerous mills along the riverfront, is now an aesthetic pleasure. This tour will guide you to the locations that played a key role in shaping Rochester but have since vanished. Some of Rochester's most glorious attractions, such as a five story sugar mill, have almost been forgotten.
 #1- Stoney Creek Villiage
Stony Creek village, also called Van Hoosen farm, was once a 300 acre dairy farm. The Van Hoosens were well known for their milk, which they packaged and sent all the way to Detroit. In 1911, two silos (Still standing today) were built. For a time, the Van Hoosen's held a record for the largest barn in Oakland County, but that burned down in 1968. Aside from the historical structures, the historical site also features a museum and access to Stony Creek.
Coordinates: 42.696567, -83.115627

 #2- Clinton-Kalamazoo Canal
A group of investors started construction on this canal in 1827. The investors were hoping to cross Michigan, but ran out funding and quit in 1844. The canal stretches 30 miles (from Lake St. Clair to Rochester), but was never used commercially
Coordinates: 42.674314, -83.096201

 #3- Bloomer Ski Jump
In 1926, the Hall Brothers of Detroit built a 112-foot ski slide/jump at a cost of $40,000 on a hill in Bloomer park. The ski jump attracted skiers from all around, and international competitions were even hosted here. The ski jump was knocked over and destroyed by wind in 1934, then rebuilt in 1938. When it was destroyed a second time in 1940, it was never rebuilt. Remaining concrete supports can be found in Bloomer park
Coordinates: 42.679411, -83.114679

 #4- Paper Mill
In 1824, a flouring mill was built on this site. The flour mill was converted to a paper mill in 1857, and operated until it was burned down by an angry women in 1875. The mill was immediately rebuilt and operated until 2002, making it the oldest continuously operating mill in Michigan. In 2005, the mill was destroyed.
Coordinates: 42.677115, -83.130066

 #5- Detroit Pavilion Hotel
The Pavilion Hotel was built in 1832, and changed owners several times before it burned down in 1877. The remains of the hotel were considered an eye-sore, and the land was donated by the city to build another hotel. The new hotel included a billiard room, dining room, 19 bedrooms, and 10 suites. When the hotel changed owners again, it was named the Detroit Hotel, but it was tragically destroyed by fire after 50 years of use in 1927.
Coordinates: 42.679209, -83.134007

 #6- Hotel St. James
A house was built on this site in 1847, and it was converted for use as a hotel (capable of accommodating 30 guests) in 1861. When the hotel changed owners in 1890, the name was changed to Hotel St. James and running heated water, sanitary facilities, and electricity were installed. The hotel was finally demolished in 1963.
Coordinates: 42.681885, -83.134054

 #7- RCS Administration Building
The current RCS Administration Center was once home of Rochester High School. This site had been used for school purposes since 1847 and the current building replaced an earlier school that burned down in 1888. This building housed kindergarten through graduating senior students at one point, but since the mid-1970s, has only housed the Rochester Community Schools Board Of Education.
Coordinates: 42.681882, -83.139710

 #8- Detroit United Railway Powerhouse
This property was once owned by D.U.R. railway. The site housed car barns, a freight house and a power plant which generated electricity for the street cars. Originally the power plant produced its own electricity, but later began purchasing it from The Rochester Light and Power Company. The electric street cars reached speeds of 80 mph on their trip to Detroit.
Coordinates: 42.683633, -83.133235

 #9- Detroit Sugar Mill
This is where the 5 story brick and steel Detroit Sugar Company mill once stood. Local citizens raised money to purchase this land, and allowed the Detroit Sugar Co. to build the mill here. The mill produced 3,146,776 lbs of sugar in its first year, but local farmers did not produce enough beets to support the mill and it closed.
Coordinates: 42.689597, -83.140609

 #10- Rochester Water works
The Rochester Waterworks was constructed in 1894, and funded by a $15,000 bond. The annual cost for home-owners depended on the initial cost to build a pipe to that location. There were no meters to restrict water usage, and the new system soon proved to be inadequate. An additional $10,000 was raised, and a 2 million gallon concrete reservoir was built adjacent to the old wells.
Coordinates: 42.703298, -83.164839