Rochester Hills Public Library (RHPL) provides life-long learning opportunities, instills a love of reading, and offers equal access to information. The library serves as a community town square, where visitors enjoy innovative ways to learn and socialize through a variety of programs, including an annual summer reading challenge, parent-child workshops, and weekly lectures. The library’s expansive and user-friendly database system allows cardholders to utilize ebooks, movies, and music downloads, language and genealogy services, and consumer reports from the comfort of their home at no cost.
Rochester Hills Public Library is located in the City of Rochester and equally serves the residents of Rochester, Rochester Hills, and Oakland Township. While the library has always been located in downtown Rochester, it has a dedicated millage from the voters in Rochester Hills, an auto-renewing contract with the City of Rochester, and Oakland Township has its own library board that contracts with RHPL.
Rochester Hills Public Library empowers people to explore and create with resources that enlighten, educate, entertain, and inform.
History:The Early Years
Rochester's first library was founded by the Rochester Literary Society in 1872. The society sought to promote the enjoyment of books and was followed by the Rochester Literary and Library Association (1873-1876), the Rochester Lecture and Library Association (1877-1881), and the Avon Ladies Library Association (1882-1908). The Avon Ladies Library Association operated for twenty-six years as a corporation, selling shares of stock and charging membership fees and annual dues. The corporation dissolved in 1908. Ten years later, the Rochester Women’s Club opened a library in the Rosso Building on Main Street.
The club recognized the need for public support of a library and successfully passed a millage to support the Avon Township Free Public Library. The library opened on Feb. 7, 1925, in the Rochester National Bank Building at Fourth Street and Main Street.
Eva Woodward Parker
Four years later, the library moved to the former C. K. Griggs residence, a two-story brick home located at 210 West University Drive. In 1951 (see photo below), the library moved temporarily to the American Legion Hall while a new library building was under construction at 210 W. University Drive. This building was a gift from Eva Woodward Parker.
The Rochester Era described Parker as a "lady of rare culture." Born in Avon Township, Parker was the daughter of Lysander Woodward, one of Rochester's pioneers and a prominent elected official in Oakland County.
Innovation and community leadership was a common thread in the Woodward family. When Eva was 16 she witnessed her father change the course of Rochester's history when he brought the Detroit and Bay City Railway to Rochester. Around the same time, her older brother, Robert Simpson Woodward began his successful career in the fields of astronomy, geology, geophysics, and astrophysics.
In 1877, Parker studied literature at the University of Michigan. After graduation, she returned to the Rochester area and taught school. In May 1883, she married Arthur S. Parker, a graduate of the University of Michigan and president of the Detroit Drug Company.
Parker's lasting impact on the community came with her own passing in 1933. Aware of the importance of libraries, she donated a large portion of her estate to enhance the existing Avon Township Free Public Library. The library was renamed the Woodward Memorial Library.
In 1962, the building was expanded with an endowment from the Grace Currey estate. The final and largest addition in 1976 increased the size of the library to 25,000 square feet. When Avon Township became the City of Rochester Hills in 1984, the Avon Township Public Library changed its name to Rochester Hills Public Library.
Current Library (1992-present)
During the 1980s it became apparent that the library was too small to meet the needs of a growing community. A new library was built at 500 Olde Towne Road and dedicated on Nov. 1, 1992.
Rochester Hills Public Library is a 70,000 square-foot building located on the edge of Rochester’s central business district. The Paint Creek and Paint Creek Trail border the building on the north and east edges. The building was designed by TMP Associates, Inc. of Bloomfield Hills and constructed by Frank Rewold & Son, Inc. of Rochester. The exterior design and the use of stone and red brick recall the architecture of the old mills that were so much a part of Rochester’s history. Bay windows on the north side of the building take advantage of the scenic views of Paint Creek.
In honor of the new library, the Woman's National Farm & Garden Association, Rochester Branch, purchased a Camperdown elm tree and planted it in front of the building. These special trees are grafted with a technique that puts the root system of the tree on top, giving the tree its distinctive shape. The library had hoped to move the original Camperdown elms from the former library location on University, but the cost of moving each tree and the risk of destroying them was too great. The library continues to showcase the tree in its official logo.