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Fund-raising continues to move grain elevator

Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Fund-raising continues to move grain elevator

By Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer


During the Rochester Christmas Parade, a small-scale replica of the Griggs Grain Elevator in Rochester crept slowly down Main Street. Rochester residents hope to see the real elevator make the same journey early next year. Fund-raising efforts continue to move the grain elevator before it is demolished by the developer who bought the property it sits on.


After it was built in 1880, the elevator became important to the economy of Rochester. Farmers from around the area would bring grain to the elevator where it would be loaded into train cars and shipped to markets in Detroit. At the time, it was a financial hub of the area. Currently, the grain elevator houses an agricultural store that sells feed, farming tools, propane and water softener. 


The developer, Frank Rewold and Son, tentatively plans to build a senior citizen condominium complex on the location at University and Water streets and wants the elevator moved as soon as possible. Frank Rewold and Sons donated the structure to the Rochester-Avon Historical Society, which organized the “Hold the Elevator” program, a fund-raising initiative to save the elevator. The City of Rochester has contributed the land just east of Rochester Road near the Clinton River, along the Clinton River Valley Heritage Trail, for the relocation, and the historical society is calling on area residents to help support the move to the new location.


OU students in the La Pittura student art group and Anthropology Club answered the call by designing a float to raise awareness during the Rochester Christmas Parade. The students built and painted the float in the snow during the days leading up to the parade. According to Richard Stamps, associate professor of anthropology and a member of the Oakland County Historical Commission, the students made a sacrifice to complete the float, but they educated the public and gained much more in the process.


“It was hard work. It was the first float they had ever made, but they will never forget this experience,” Stamps said. “They learned a little about historic preservation as well.”


The float and students educated those along the parade route about how much their help is needed in saving a piece of Rochester history.


“The funds are coming in, but there is still a need,” Stamps said.


Currently, there are no plans for the elevator once it is moved and brought up to code. Proposals for reuse will be accepted.


The Rochester-Avon Historical Society is collecting tax-deductible donations for “Hold the Elevator.” To make a donation, print and complete the donation form on the Rochester-Avon Historical Society's Hold the Elevator Web site and return it by mail with check made payable to the Rochester-Avon Historical Society.


For more information on the Griggs Grain Elevator or to volunteer, contact Hold the Elevator at