Downtown Rochester’s reconstruction leads to cool historical finds

Downtown Rochester’s big dig of 2012 is turning up some finds that may dull the pain of the Main Street rebuild that has disrupted business.

Two discoveries that were unearthed when the street was ripped up are already bringing more people into downtown and could result in new points of interest for visitors to downtown.

One major find was the original brick road that ran through town, some 600,000 bricks, from two brick-makers. One was a stamped brick called Hocking Block, the other comes from a company Speedway because it built the International Speedway in Indianapolis,

The masonry motherlode were put up for sale at a special event that pulled hundreds of visitors into downtown last week. They also came to buy lamp posts, parking meters and other items that are being replaced during the road rebuild and streetscape makeover.

About 15,000 of the bricks will go back into the streetscape, into planters and other parts, Kristi Trevarrow, executive director of Rochester Downtown Development Authority.

More are available to the public, and thousands have already been sold.

“People can get a couple or thousands,” she says. “People want to build fireplaces with them, do driveways with them. It’s great.

Another “very exciting, very cool thing” was a collection of papers shoved into an underground coal bin. They turned out to be operation and instruction sheets from a Kroger that few knew was once located downtown, Trevarrow says. The selling tip sheets and other explainers from 1931-1933 store “are hysterical,” she says. Pictures can be seen on the Downtown Rochester’s Facebook page.

Kroger officials were so excited about the find, she says, they donated $2,500 to help Rochester’s Historical Commission preserve and display the papers.

“This is the most exciting thing so far…This is the one that stood out as a piece of Rochester,” Trevarrow says. This is a very stressful project for everyone. Our biggest thing for us was we wanted people to have access to our history.”

Source: Kristi Trevarrow, executive director, Rochester Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine