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Rochester and Vicinity

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The town of Rochester sits on a rocky promontory above the confluence of the Beaver and the Ohio rivers. The steeply sloping site, characterized by radial streets and triangular lots, accommodates more than 4,000 residents. The floodplain along the Ohio River is defined by the six-story-tall, orange brick former Beaver Valley Brewery (1903) and smaller light industrial buildings and warehouses. Numerous railroad tracks traverse the area, and highway bridge ramps further divide this section from the town above. A linear riverside park and a marina west of the brewery and north along the Beaver River shore have substantially brightened the space, especially with the periodic mooring of the Louis Kahn–designed Point Counterpoint II barge (1964–1967).

Raised well above the tracks, most of Rochester's public and commercial buildings line two radial streets, Brighton and Harmony avenues, converging at Madison Street. Rochester's business district is characterized by three- to four-story stone and brick apartments, stores, and offices angled to meet the eccentricities of their sites. Two exceptions are the Masonic Temple and the Post Office. The Masonic Temple (1884; 197–199 West Park) is still among Rochester's tallest buildings, and overlooks one of the main squares. The dark red brick building has stone detailing and a tiny, mansard-roofed pavilion at the northwest corner of the facade. The side elevation resembles row houses, with six prominent corbeled chimneys and six separate entrances for bachelor accommodations. A handsome, golden brick Post Office (1932, James Wetmore, acting supervising architect of the U.S. Treasury; 257 Connecticut Avenue) employs the stripped classicism of the era in its design. The original street pattern of the commercial district has been altered to accommodate a new bridge across the Beaver River and parking lots for a modern shopping mall. Set back from the business district are the residential neighborhoods and their churches, such as the stone Grace Lutheran Church (1906–1907, William J. East) at 393 Adams Street, schools, and brick and frame housing dating from the 1870s to the 1920s. The Rochester Community Center (350 Adams Street), built as the Rochester High School in 1916, is a cream-colored Tudor Revival brick building delightfully bedecked with terra-cotta ornament.

Rochester was laid out by Ovid Pinney in 1835, but the town did not develop until after its incorporation in 1849. Its wide river plain allowed moorage for steamboats. By 1880, five railroads passed through the borough. A glass tumbler company, lumber yards, planing mills, and a casket company and door manufactory added to the growing industries of Rochester. The Fry Glass Company achieved international repute. Though no longer a major industrial center, the borough remains a transportation nexus for Beaver County, since the major entrance to the borough of Beaver from the east is through Rochester.

Writing Credits

Lu Donnelly et al.

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