Mid-19th Century: Greek Revival
The Rollin Sprague Building/Old Stone Store is a two-story gable front building with walls of coursed cobblestone construction, which is located on the northeast corner of Main and Third Streets in Rochester's central business district. A number of businesses have occupied the building since its construction around 1849. The building's current facade, its fourth, replicates a Late Victorian pressed metal facade constructed in 1899. Although the structure has undergone a number of changes, it still retains most of its original coursed cobblestone construction and some Greek Revival trim.
Sprague, Rollin, 1806-1872
Statement of Significance:
The "Old Stone Store" is the oldest commercial building in downtown Rochester, Michigan. Built around 1849, the store is one of only about forty-five buildings thus far identified in Michigan of the coursed, cobblestone construction technique. It is the only example in Rochester.
1. "A Gruesome Find," Rochester Era, August 11, 1899.
2. "Work has commenced on the repairs to the stone store...," Rochester Era, August 4, 1899.
3. "The work of tearing out the stone store front was completed yesterday afternoon, and the new brick and glass front will put in at once," Rochester Era, August 18, 1899.
4. "The new steel and glass front of the stone store is being put in this week," Rochester Era, October 8, 1899.
5. Rochester Era, November 17, 1899, p.1.
6. "A pool and billiard room has been opened in the beautiful stone store. Too bad to put so fine a building to such a use," Rochester Era, February 16, 1900.
7. "The Sprague Family," Rochester Clarion, May 18, 1923, p.1.
8. Durant, Samuel W. History of Oakland County, Michigan (Philadelphia: L. H. Everts, 1877), pp. 140-141.
9. "Developments on Main Street," Rochester Clarion, May 1, 1931, p.1 [opening of Oakland Dairy store]
10. "Scha-Ben's Bakery to Open May 1st," Rochester Clarion, April 24, 1947, p.1.
11. "Bakery Renovated to Show Off Historic Home," Rochester Reminder, October 19, 1995, p.A9.
1899 date on cornice reflects the year in which the building's facade was substantially renovated from its original appearance. The building was restored to the 1899 appearance in 1995.
The store's first owner was Dr. Rollin Sprague, whose family came to the Rochester area from Ontario County, New York, in 1821. The building has housed a drug and dry goods store, the Rochester Era newspaper, a grocery store, restaurant, a used car sales office, an Oakland Dairy ice cream store and a bakery. Since the 1950s it has been the "Home Bakery." In 1899, a major renovation of the Rollin Sprague building took place, during which the entire front of the building was remodeled and an ornate Victorian cornice was installed. During that renovation, the Rochester Era reported: "The stone store was built fifty-five years ago last summer and a new roof has been put on, in connection with other improvements - the second one ever on the building. The shingles from 'ye olden tyme' were much more substantial than those made now-a-days. If a modern roof lasts twenty years it does well - quite a difference from fifty-five years."
The store is also said to have been built on the site of a native American burial ground, according to Samuel Durant's 1877 History of Oakland County. On page 140-141 of that work is noted the following:
"The aborigines who used to make their home about Rochester, buried their dead in three different places within or near the present limits of the village. One was on the site now occupied by the store of Mrs. Rollin C. Sprague."
In 1899, while workmen were deepening the cellar under the building, two skeletons were unearthed. It is unknown whether the bones discovered at that time belonged to native people.
The building housed an Oakland Dairy store in the 1930s and '40s, and was converted to use as a bakery in 1947 by partners Harry Schaefer and Donald Bennett, who combined their names to call the business Scha-Ben's bakery. It was later named Home Bakery.
The facade of the "Old Stone Store" was restored to its turn-of-the-twentieth century appearance in 1995 and the interior has been substantially upgraded.