First Baptist Church of Rochester
This building, original a wood frame structure and later faced with brick, served as the home of Rochester's First Baptist Church from 1855 until 1973. The building was expanded and remodeled several times over the decades during which it was occupied by the church. When the church moved to a larger campus in 1973, this property was sold and repurposed as a retail store.
Backstory and Context
The First Baptist Church of Rochester was formed in 1854 in the old Stoney Creek church. In June 1854, the congregation purchased property on the corner of Fourth and Walnut streets in the village of Rochester, and soon thereafter purchased and moved the unfinished Christian church building to the site. The Rochester Era reported in 1897 that the building was being expanded: "The addition to the Baptist church is well under way. John Arkins has the job."
The front of the building was revised in 1940. The Rochester Era reported on November 1, 1940:
"A new front is being put on the Baptist Church. Attorney Axford hopes the conture [sic] of the front will not be disturbed, as the Church is one of the oldest in the country and there are only a few of them left in old-time condition."
In 1947, the youth of the congregation donated a neon sign for the front of the building. The sign, which read "Jesus Saves," hung over the front entrance of the church from 1947 until the congregation moved in 1973.
A $35,000 addition providing classroom space to the north was made in 1948. This addition provided a nursery room and fifteen new Sunday School classrooms. In 1951, the growing congregation built a 30x45 addition to the sanctuary space and excavated a basement under the building, raising the seating capacity of the sanctuary space to 500. The congregation continued to occupy the building, with numerous alterations, until 1973, when it built a new facility on Orion Road. After the building was sold by the church it became the home of a retail store called the Village Shoe Inn.
Martin Hayden and Sarah Jane Hayden his wife and Lemuel Taylor and Eunice Taylor his wife to the Rochester Baptist Church, 12 June 1854, consideration $400, lots 94 and 95, Original Plat of the Village of Rochester, Oakland County Record of Deeds, liber 60, p. 469.
"The addition to the Baptist church...," Rochester Era, June 25, 1897, p.1.
Rochester: A Sketch of One of the Best Towns on the Map. Rochester, Mich.: W.A. Fox, 1907, p.3.
"A new front is being put on the Baptist Church...," Rochester Era, November 1, 1940, p.1.
"First Baptist Church Rapidly Growing Under Rev. D. Olsen," Rochester Era, September 4, 1947, p.8.
"Baptist Church to Dedicate New Annex At Sunday Service," Rochester Clarion, July 15, 1948, p.1.
"First Baptist to Hold Dedication Services Sunday," Rochester Era, July 15, 1948, p.1.
"First Baptist Church Doubling Size of its Church Auditorium," Rochester Clarion, May 10, 1951, p.1.
Rochester: A Sketch of One of the Best Towns on the Map, 1907 [public domain]