State Savings Bank Building
The State Savings Bank building was constructed in 1907 as a double storefront and was home to the short-lived State Savings Bank of Rochester. The second storefront was originally filled by the Tuttle & Sullivan undertaking parlor. The building was designed by Saginaw architect Clarence L. Cowles, who was also the architect of the Doherty Hotel in Clare, Michigan, as well as the 1914 renovations to the First Congregational Church of Rochester.
Backstory and Context
The business block at 408-410 S. Main was built to be the home of the State Savings Bank of Rochester, one of the shortest-lived banks in Rochester history, but the building also has ties to one of the community's oldest businesses.
The State Savings Bank of Rochester filed its articles of incorporation in April 1907, with George M. Flumerfelt as president and Charles A. Burr as cashier. Later that same month, the bank announced its intention to build a new, two-story brick business block on Main Street. The architect was identified in this item from the Rochester Era of April 19, 1907:
Mr. and Mrs. C. L. Cowels [sic], of Saginaw, former the architect of the new Rochester State Savings Bank building, were the guests of Mrs. and Mrs. C. A. Burr last Sunday. The question of a double brick store adjoining Sullivan & Tuttle's on the north was decided last (Thursday) night, but too late for this impression of The Era.
Architect Clarence L. Cowles (1869-1925) was born in Flint, Michigan, learned architecture in the Detroit firm of E. E. Myers, then opened his own practice in Saginaw in 1894. He was the architect of the Doherty Hotel in Clare, Michigan, the Saginaw Junior High School, and St. Andrew's Catholic Church in Saginaw, among scores of other buildings. He also served as president of the Michigan Society of Architects.
The new State Savings Bank building opened in the summer of 1907, with the bank occupying the north side of the block at the 410 S. Main address, and the furniture and undertaking business of Sullivan & Tuttle occupying the south side at 408 S. Main.
William M. Sullivan and Edward A. Tuttle had formed their furniture and undertaking partnership in 1906. Sullivan, of Royal Oak, also had a funeral business in that city, and after a couple of years in Rochester returned to Royal Oak and left the Rochester business in the hands of partner Tuttle. Edward Tuttle sold his part of the business to Thomas E. Nichols in 1910, and Nichols subsequently bought out Sullivan's interest. (William M. Sullivan continued on with his Royal Oak funeral business, which eventually became known as Sullivan & Sons, with locations in Royal Oak and Utica.)
Meanwhile, in Rochester, T.E. Nichols' undertaking business prospered, and eventually moved to West Fifth Street (now University Drive). In 1920, Nichols formed a partnership with Vern A. Pixley and the business became known as Nichols & Pixley. In 1953, it became the Pixley Funeral Home.
The State Savings Bank of Rochester, however, had a much shorter history. It lasted only three years, until August 1910, at which time it was liquidated and merged with the First National Bank of Rochester.
For more than three decades, the 410 side of the State Savings Bank Building was occupied by shoe stores: first by the W. A. Mow Shoe Store, then by Hale's, and Leinenger's. In more recent time, 410 has been the location of the Rochester Eccentric office, Carlson Wagonlit travel agency, the Green Baby store, and the South Street Skate Shop. The 408 side of the building has been home to Sullivan & Tuttle, the Gittleman store, the Rochester Imperial Laundry, Oberg Electric Sales, Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor, and a Subway sandwich shop (among others).
"Mr. and Mrs. C. L. Cowels, of Saginaw...," Rochester Era, April 19, 1907.
"Build New Bank: Rochester Institution To Have New Home; Brick Store 20 x 80 Feet Will Take Place of Tuttle House," Pontiac Press Gazette, April 23, 1907.
"Clarence L. Cowles," in Fuller, George N. (George Newman), 1873-1957, and Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society. A Third Volume Containing Local History And Personal Sketches [of Saginaw And Lenawee Counties, Michigan]. [Dayton, Ohio]: National Historical Assoc., 1924, p.138.
Rochester: A Sketch of One of the Best Towns on the Map, 1907 [public domain]
Rochester Era, April 18, 1909