Centennial painting by Christopher A. Wheat, 1997
Just as we looked back in December on memories of 2021, we find ourselves looking ahead to 2022.
This year holds several anniversaries for our community. Two of these are: the 125th anniversary of the founding of East Rochester and the 100th anniversary of the founding of our Public Library. Each of these milestones will be celebrated. Details will follow as the year progresses.
Throughout the year I will share monthly articles (around the 15th of the month) which will serve to honor special moments in our history. Some of my columns will review highlights already shared, some will present new information learned along the way. Readers who wish to comment may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The founding of East Rochester (originally called Despatch) was officially designated as May 29, 1897—an event marked by the laying of the cornerstone of the office building of the Merchants Despatch Transportation Company (Carshops). This building still stands at the end of Main Street by the railroad tracks. Over the years three major celebrations have been held—the 50th in 1947, the 75th in 1972, and the 100th in 1997.
The theme for 1947’s celebration was stated in these words: “Our roots are in the past, our joy of service is in our present, our hopes are in the years ahead.” At the time the village’s population was about 7,000. On Saturday, May 31st, four major events took place with Edmund Lyon Park as the backdrop: a pioneer picnic at the Methodist Church, a parade with about 1500 marchers, a barbeque, and a pageant (“Days to Remember”) of ER History. On Sunday a church service was held in the Park. A visible memory of the weekend is the model train car (built of wood by workers at the Carshops) which is now housed in the lobby of the Eyer Building.
For the 75th anniversary of our community, a series of events were held from July 30-August 5, 1972. The week’s activities included: a barbeque, performances by the high school band and the Rochester Crusaders Drum & Bugle Corp., a teen dance, square dancing, a junior high school play, and the Brockport Sky Divers. Friday evening was highlighted by a fireworks display at Harris Field. The week culminated with the annual Firemen’s Parade on Saturday night which ended at Edmund Lyon Park with the Monroe County Parks Band performing.
For the 100th anniversary, events were planned for much of 1997. Co-chairs, Mary Conners and Jim Burlingame, worked hard to make sure the year was one to be remembered. The culmination of the celebration was the book they authored, East Rochester, New York: 1897-1997, The First 100 Years. Numerous commemorative items were for sale during the year, such as calendars, model buildings of various landmarks, and an afghan with images of village sites. During 1997 events included: an old-timers basketball game and sock hop, murder mystery dinner, planting of a centennial tree, dedication of the centennial monument in Edmund Lyon Park and commemorative brick walkway, a Victorian tea, E.R. Red Wings baseball night, and a train excursion to Albany. Centennial Week (August 10-17) hosted many musical performances daily along with the Saturday Firemen’s Parade and fireworks.
The East Rochester Public Library was formally chartered by the Regents of the University of the State of New York on May 25, 1922. The library began when a group of women from the Community Welfare League asked village residents to donate books to create a library. Card parties were held to raise funds. The first site was a second floor room in the Rialto Theater (now the Capri Apartments). In its one hundred year history the library has occupied seven sites in our community. These are depicted on the wall behind the circulation desk on the main floor of the library. In its earliest years the library was managed by Mrs. Laura Whittleton and many volunteers. As the collection grew and services increased, the library continued to move to larger venues. Over the years celebrations have been held as each site opened. In 1959, the Friends of the Library was formed to support the programs the library offered through fundraisers and activities. For the 100th anniversary of our library many special events are being planned.