Looking Back: Main Street businesses

Rochester Post | Published December 8, 2020


ROCHESTER — Back when Rochester’s Main Street was dirt, hitching posts still lined the street and the Detroit United Railway ran daily through town, George C. Dennis, E.J. Lambertson and H.H. Stalker had businesses side by side.

At the northwest corner of Main and Fourth streets, these neighbors provided Rochester with medicine (G.C. Dennis), dry goods (E.J. Lambertson) and a wide selection of footwear (H.H. Stalker).

G.C. Dennis and E.J. Lambertson occupied the old Lambertson building on the corner, which dated back to 1868. This corner would later become the site of the D & C Store, often remembered for its creaky floors and candy counter.

The neighboring brick building at 405-407 S. Main St. was constructed by local jeweler Louis Eugene Palmer in 1883. The construction of Palmer’s building was chronicled in the local Rochester Era newspaper during the summer of that year. In the June 28, 1883, issue, the newspaper reported that the unique cornice “beats ‘em all.” When this photograph was taken sometime between 1899 and 1916, H.H. Stalker’s shoe store and a cafe occupied the building.

Over the next 15 years, Palmer continued to expand this section of Main Street.

The shorter building pictured here was built between 1884 and 1885 and opened as Palmer’s Palace Rink, a roller skating rink that soon transitioned into a dance hall.

With the last building at 415-417 S. Main St. going up around 1896-1897, “Palmer Block,” as it was often called, was finally complete. Although the old Lambertson building is no longer standing on the corner, Palmer’s buildings can still be found on Main Street over 120 years later.

 To discover more local history, visit the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm website at www.rochesterhills.org/museum and check out the online collection catalog at rochesterhills.pastperfectonline.com.

— Samantha Lawrence, museum archivist at the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm-