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The Rochester Era Building is an Italianate-Victorian business block that was built to house the Rochester Era, the community's first successful newspaper. The newspaper's publisher built the structure in 1885 to escape the need to rent quarters for his offices. The building is an intact example of a Victorian-era business block and features a metal cornice and carved window hoods.

  • Rochester Era Building, south and east elevations, 2011
  • Rochester Era Building, south and east elevations, 1907
  • Willoughby A. Fox, ca. 1907

The Rochester Era was the community's first successful newspaper, established in April 1873, just a year after the first railroad line connected Rochester with the outside world. Truman Buell Fox and his son, William A. Fox ran the newspaper together until the death of the elder Fox in 1893; Will Fox continued on his own for decades after that. The Era of July 10, 1885 announced that "Will A. Fox of The Era has commenced the erection of a two-story brick office and residence on H.M. Look, Sr.'s homestead, between Main and Walnut sts. It will be 20x34 feet."

On July 24, the newspaper reported that: "N. C. Jones and son Charley are doing the brick work on the new Era office, and a good job they are doing, too." The new building was completed in November of the same year, when the editor crowed from the front page that the newspaper was now settled in the new quarters and would entertain visitors. An accompanying article explained that "for nearly thirteen long and rebellious years we had paid office rent," and tiring of changing locations at the whim of landlords, father and son Fox had decided to put up their own building. The item further described the new building: "And today finds us located in a neat, snug brick office with all the modern appointments. The second story is fitted up for the use and occupation of the junior publisher, to whose pluck and energy we are indebted for the structure. The lower portion is devoted to our sanctum and composing room, and is comfortable, convenient, and cozy."

A newspaper item that ran two months later with a review of recent construction activity in the village put the price of construction of the Era building at $1,000.

A newspaper item in the Rochester Era of September 10, 1897 reported: "A 10x12 addition has been built onto The Era office." In October 1909, the newspaper noted that its office had received a new coat of paint: "The exterior of the Era office has been newly painted by Alvah Rhyndress—the brick red and trimmings colonial yellow."

In December 1943, the Rochester Era ended 70 years of publication by the Fox family when Willoughby A. Fox sold the newspaper to Oliver C. Swords. The Era ceased publication on October 28, 1949, after it was merged with its rival newspaper, the Rochester Clarion.

After the Era moved from the building, it was used for private apartments and retail space.

Henry M. Look Sr. to Willoughby A. Fox, June 26, 1884, consideration $140, a lot 20 x 40 feet on the southeast corner of village lot 67, Original Plat of the Village of Rochester, Oakland County Record of Deeds, liber 147, page 153.

"Will A. Fox, of The Era, has commenced the erection of a two-story brick office...," Rochester Era, July 10, 1885.

"N. C. Jones and son, Charley, are doing the brick work...," Rochester Era, July 24, 1885, p.1.

"Into the New," Rochester Era, November 6, 1885, p.1.

"Truman B. Fox, the Veteran Senior Editor of the Rochester Era," Detroit Free Press, October 10, 1892, p.3.

"A 10x12 addition has been built...," Rochester Era, September 10, 1897, p.1.

"The exterior of the Era office has been newly painted...," Rochester Era, October 1, 1909, p.4.

"The Rochester Era is Sold: 70 Years of Service From the Fox Family is Ended," Rochester Era, December 3, 1943, p.1.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Deborah Larsen

Rochester: A Sketch of One of the Best Towns on the Map, 1907 [public domain]

Rochester: A Sketch of One of the Best Towns on the Map, 1907 [public domain]