The Town of Rochester lies adjacent to Rondout Creek in Ulster County in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains. To the west the Town affords easy access to over 700,000 acres of Catskill Park. To the east lie the Shawangunk Mountains and more than 17,000 acres of protected lands in the Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park. Formed from a number of hamlets, the Town has a large number of old stone houses, some dating back to the 17th century.
Accord (the site of the Rochester Town Hall and other town offices) and Kerhonkson are the Town’s two largest hamlets. In the original Rochester Patent (named in honor of the Earl of Rochester) which was dated 1703, Queen Anne of England granted to Town Trustees the right to convey to settlers ownership of lands in the Town of Rochester, an area which included the present towns of Rochester, Wawarsing and Gardiner, and portions of Sullivan and Delaware counties. In 1703, the year of its incorporation, the Rochester’s population was recorded as 334.
The basic activity of nearly every family the Town of Rochester during the 18th and 19th centuries was farming. However, many farmers had additional occupations, including production of wintergreen oil, quarrying of millstone and bluestone, milling of corn, wheat and lumbers (and, later, paper), blacksmithing, coopering, shoemaking, wagon-making and store-keeping. The entire Town of Rochester enjoyed a period of prosperity from 1902 into the 1940s when the Ontario & Western Railway provided transportation-to-market for products of the local farms, mills and quarries. The trains also brought summer visitors from urban centers such as New York City. The summer resort industry has played an important role in the economic life of the Town. Accommodations were first provided in private homes, and later in over 50 bungalow colonies, camps, boarding houses and hotels.