George Burr Building
This two-story, double-front brick business block was built in 1914 for hardware merchant George Burr. Important original features of the building remain intact, including the stamped tin ceiling and the large central staircase. The building has housed only two businesses in its more than a century of existence: the George Burr Hardware from 1914 to 1964, and Green's Artist Supply since 1964. It is an excellent, substantially intact example of an early twentieth century commercial block.
Backstory and Context
George Burr had this store built in 1914, after he had outgrown his previous location across the street at 418 S. Main. George Burr was the brother of fellow Rochester merchants Charles A. Burr, builder of the Opera House block at 4th and Main, and Frank H. Burr, who built a two-store block to the immediate south of the Opera House block.
The new building at 429 S. Main was built in tandem with another project on the lot immediately to the south of the Burr building; the building at 425 S. Main was known as the Erlacher building. The Rochester Era newspaper reported on the progress of the construction on October 30, 1914:
"The brick masons finished laying the brick on George Burr's new building Friday, and if the weather permits, the building will soon be completed." Then, on November 13:
"The masons have finished the plastering on the new George Burr block, and the carpenters are working on the woodwork for the large plate glass front, and the steel ceiling is being put up."
George Burr was born in Michigan on January 23, 1862, the son of Louis and Eliza Gendrich Burr. He came to Rochester from Mount Clemens in 1899 and opened his first hardware and agricultural implement store there in the spring of 1900. He died suddenly from a stroke on August 13, 1934.
In 1922, George Burr retired from the business he had founded and passed the management of the store to his daughter, Neva, and her husband, C. Ward Crissman. When Ward Crissman died suddenly in 1935, Neva Crissman brought her own daughter, Arlene, and son-in-law Leon Robertson into the business, and they continued to manage it until they decided to close the hardware store and sell the building in June 1965.
After the hardware store closed, the building housed Green's Artist Supply.
"Brick work began on the Burr-Erlacher building last Wednesday, being delayed one day by the heavy rain of Tuesday," Rochester Era, September 4, 1914.
"The brick masons finished laying the brick on George Burr's new building...," Rochester Era, October 30, 1914, p.8.
"The masons have finished the plastering on the new George Burr block...," Rochester Era, November 13, 1914, p.5.
"Death Takes George Burr Monday," Rochester Clarion, August 17, 1934, p.1.
"Prominent Man Claimed by Death: C. Ward Crissman, Successful Business Man, Widely Known," Rochester Clarion, May 31, 1935, p.1.
"Hardware Closing Revives Memories," Rochester Clarion, June 10, 1965, p.1.
"George Burr," Rochester Era, February 12, 1904.
"A Substantial Implement Business," in Rochester: A Sketch of One of the Best Towns on the Map. Rochester, Mich.: W. A. Fox, 1907, p.17.
Rochester: A Sketch of One of the Best Towns on the Map. W. A. Fox, 1907 [public domain]