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Looking Back: Walnut was ‘church street’

Rochester Post | Published September 5, 2017


ROCHESTER — In the first half of the last century, most of the city’s houses of worship were located on Walnut Street, and residents called the avenue “church street.”

Included was St. Andrew Catholic Church. In the early 20th century, Rochester’s Western Knitting Mills had trouble keeping Catholic workers in their employment for longer than a few months. The community had no Catholic church, leaving many devout Catholic workers no choice but to leave in search of other employment.

In 1912, non-Catholic mill owners gathered at the Detroit Hotel to discuss keeping Catholic workers in Rochester, and they invited Father John Needham, of Royal Oak, to help establish a Catholic church in Rochester.

The red brick St. Andrew Catholic Church was completed in 1928 on Walnut, at Third Street, and seated 600 people. In 1967, officials determined a larger church was needed. Two years later, the current St. Andrew Catholic Church was built on Inglewood Road. 

In 1971, the church sold its old building on Walnut to the city of Rochester. The church was demolished and became a parking lot. Directly across the street, the former First Congregational Church currently houses the Rochester Brunch House restaurant.