From the Files of the Rochester Historical Society

Over the course of these articles, I have written more than once about aspects of Eastover Farm. This picturesque area protected for the future through the efforts and money of many has become an iconic reminder of Rochester’s past. Prior to the Hiller family, the land was owned and developed by several families. The Leonard family, beginning with three brothers, bought into the existing forge on the Sippican River. Over time, one brother, George, bought up much of the neighboring land creating the footprint of today’s Eastover.

            While there is much history covered by the ownership of the property, principally, by the Leonard, Delano and Rhodes families, for the purpose of this article, I am most interested in the buildings that once were there and are no longer on their original sites. In the early 1800’s, on the south side of Mary’s Pond Road., there was a General Store built by Nehemiah Leonard and later run by Theodore Leonard. Across from the store was the Leonard School, a neighborhood school built in 1849. The one room schoolhouse became School District #11 in 1857. The school is gone, but you can still see the steps in the stone wall that led to the schoolhouse door.

            The summerhouse and later residence of Charles and Elizabeth Leonard was a rambling farmhouse with a spacious interior, and it stood where the old farm stand is today. In 1904, the house, now owned by John Rhodes, burned to the ground. This spot was later the site of the Hiller’s dairy and lastly, the farm stand.

            Rhodes purchased the property from the Delanos in 1900 and began to make changes. the Rhodes, father and son, were intent on creating a country retreat for business from the city where they could relax. Both the general store and schoolhouse were moved across the road and combined with school becoming an ell attached to the store. This building later became the office for Hiller Cranberry and now is the office for a financial company. At the back of this same building was a bowling alley for the use of guests. It was open to townspeople on the weekends. While Leonard was at best, a gentleman farmer, the Rhodes, particularly the son, was more focused on entertainment. He had a racetrack created in a field across the street. It was a half mile track and necessitated creating gaps in the stone walls.

            With the Hiller’s ownership, Eastover became a working farm which meant the building of additional barns and storage areas and the repurposing of existing ones, but one can easily imagine the older versions with the history they contain.

By Connie Eshbach

2 Responses to “From the Files of the Rochester Historical Society”

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  1. Joy Conwell says:

    My husband recently found a 1903 map that includes the sites mentioned in this article. Very enjoyable to read about the activities that took place at these sites around that time. We framed the map and it is hanging in the living room of our house at 180 New Bedford Rd., Rochester. We’re selling the house in June … but we’re keeping the map. We will take it with us to our new home at 352 North Avenue, Rochester. Thanks for the interesting research and article!

  2. David Sullivan says:

    Dear Connie, being a close relation to the Rhodes/Jewett family, there is (perhaps) further detail to provide you re: their intentions, enhancements & connections to both the Delano/Haskell – Leonard heirs & the Hiller Brothers. The Eastover spread never really left the Leonald family – cousins & in-laws have kept it since it’s humble mill beginnings. Am available to offer additional details & anecdotal information if you so desire. Enjoy your articles about this amazing part of Rochester’s history that survives to this day. To the Hiller/Carr/Clark families THANK YOU for your preservation & generous donations to people near & far can experience such a wonderful place as Eastover Farm & Preserves. Dave Sullivan

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