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New book celebrates local history

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published May 24, 2011

 Meredith Long and Madelyn Rzadkowolski have written a history of the Rochester area.

Meredith Long and Madelyn Rzadkowolski have written a history of the Rochester area.

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ROCHESTER/ROCHESTER HILLS — A new book gives readers a pictorial history of the Rochester area.

The book, “Rochester and Rochester Hills,” tells the tale of progress on land once considered uninhabitable.

Authors Meredith Long and Madelyn Rzadkowolski worked for six months on the new book, which includes 200 pictures.

“It appeals to people who think they don’t like history,” Long said. “They are drawn in by the images and then find out that history is interesting.”

Presented by Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series, the book explores the Rochester area’s roots — a territory of three rivers, fertile pasture and rolling oak forests. An official government report in 1817 told of an area of swampy and barren land that deterred settlers.

The Graham family was the first to venture to the area that same year, establishing a farm. Just 20 years later, every plot of land in Rochester had been sold, and the village became a stop on the network of Michigan railroads.

Illustrious figures, including auto baron John Dodge and internationally prominent obstetrician Bertha Van Hoosen, moved to the area, followed by such corporations as Parke-Davis and such philanthropic organizations as Leader Dogs for the Blind.

Long said she and Rzadkowolski sought unique photographs for their book.

“We worked really hard to locate private collections in the community for pictures — to get images people don’t usually see,” Long said.

A detailed history of Meadow Brook Hall is included in the book. Long is the hall’s curator, and Rzadkowolski is its program and events coordinator.

“Meadow Brook gave us such great photographs for the book,” Rzadkowolski said. “I think we got a lot that isn’t typically presented.”

Rzadkowolski said her research turned up a few surprises.

“I didn’t know that Rochester had such a rich history and that so much of it had maybe been forgotten,” she said. “I didn’t realize Leader Dogs started in Rochester. I didn’t know about the Ferry Seed farm. I’m really happy to put that information in an easy-to-ready book — to let people get exited about the town they live in.”

A June 8 book signing at Meadow Brook Hall is planned; it will include a tour of the mansion, located off of Adams Road, on the campus of Oakland University.

The book “Rochester and Rochester Hills” will be available for sale in the MBH gift shop and local retail locations. For more information, call (248) 364-6200.

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