Looking Back: The house at 444 W. University Drive

Rochester Post | Published March 11, 2021

ROCHESTER — The house at 444 W. University Drive in Rochester was built around 1906 with brick from the recently demolished Detroit Sugar Co., a failed beet sugar plant located near Ludlow Street. The house was built by Pennsylvania transplant Clinton George Griffey. In 1873, Griffey moved to Negaunee, Michigan, where he founded the Negaunee Iron Herald. While settled in Negaunee, he would serve in the Michigan House of Representatives and the state Senate.

After visiting his son in Rochester, Griffey relocated here with his wife in 1903. Before building his home on Fifth Street (now University), he built two cottages on North Pine Street in 1904. Around this time, he wrote a lengthy letter to the Rochester Era newspaper drawing attention to improvements needed for safe passage over the Paint Creek near Pine Street.

The letter was published on the front page under the heading, “Once Again is Attention Called to Public Improvement by Mr. Griffey. Tax Payers, Read It and Ponder It Carefully.”

For the next 30 years, Griffey would split his time in Rochester with his frequent travels across the state and country. In 1905, his letters once again made front page news. This time, he wrote about his trip out west to California, Colorado and Utah. From January through March, Griffey recounted his travels by detailing the landscape, industry and wildlife of each place he visited.

Griffey lived in Rochester until his death in 1937. He was buried alongside his wife in Mount Avon Cemetery. The Griffey home with a remodeled facade is currently occupied by law offices.

To discover more local history, visit the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm’s website at www.rochesterhills.org/museum.

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