Museum Grounds

The Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm is surrounded by sixteen acres of rolling park grounds. Stoney Creek, once the power source for five mills in this area, borders the property. Today, swimmers, fishermen and women, sunbathers, painters, photographers, readers, and more enjoy the historical setting of this beautiful site. A large grove of mature black walnut and maple trees surrounds the gazebo, and gardens and hillsides of daylilies, ferns, hostas, peonies, poppies, and lily-of-the-valley fill the landscape with fragrance and stunning colors.

An herb garden and fountain area are tucked into the backyard's "dimple" where the Taylor mill was once located. Joshua Van Hoosen constructed another fountain, located in the front yard, in the 1870s. According to the June 20, 1878 issue of the Rochester Era newspaper, Joshua was raising one thousand salmon fry in this fountain that were released into Stoney Creek.

The Museum buildings and grounds are owned and operated by the City of Rochester Hills as part of the Rochester Hills Park and Natural Resources Department. The Rochester Garden Club carefully maintains the gardens for your enjoyment!
Foundation Area East of the Concrete Silo

The foundation area identified was several individual buildings at one time that later were joined together under one roof. This building appears in Sarah’s Master’s Thesis in 1916 and may have been built c.1910. It consisted of a shed, tool shed, workshop, and two icehouses. It burned to the ground in 1968 when the Big Barn burned.

The Smith Silo Company of Oxford, Michigan built the large concrete silo in 1930; and the small metal silo was constructed in 1940. Both of these silos were built during the most prosperous, productive times at the farm.

Construction Dates of Structures in Rochester Hills

Click here to view the exhibit. 

This exhibit incrementally displays the development of Avon Township (Rochester Hills) through marking construction plots (in colors by era on the map) during our community's history.

Please remember while viewing this exhibit that the grey lines on the map show current roads. Major roads, such as M-59, were not constructed at the time of the early settlers: this means that many plots may have been built, torn down, and then built again multiple times. Most likely, if the map had been created in 1820, the grey lines would have followed river beds and hills. Physical geography was much more important to our early settlers in guiding construction methods and limiting development locations than it is now.

Rivers were a prime power source as water powered mills were constructed throughout the 1800s, eventually serving industries from paper to sugar [beets] to grist to wool. Today we can visit Yates Cider Mill as an excellent representation of the period.

Eventually railroads replaced rivers for transportation by providing efficient and fast transport for both freight and passengers. Rochester and Rochester Hills at one point had the Michigan Central Rail Road, the Grand Trunk Railway, and the Detroit Urban Railway. These railroads served as the precursor to the interstate road system built in the 1950s. Both the Paint Creek Trail and the Clinton River Trail is are built on former railroad beds.

The freeways that we see now, namely M-59, provide the next evolution of transportation, uniquely serving our community because it directly connects our community's roads. On the map we see M-59 and how the built environment increased around it.

This map represents the built progression of Rochester Hills and can provide a geographical understanding of the City's evolution from individual farms to a suburban community.

fall museum grounds


lilies blooming


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