Rockford Area Historical Society News & Update

by TERRY KONKLE
President, Rockford Area Historical Society

Terry Konkle Photo by Cliff Hill

My writing this week will be devoted mostly

to sharing some information about the history of the Rockford area. I call this a “Did YouKnow” column.

Did you know:

• Smith Laphams’ daughter, Amy Ann, was Rockford’s first school teacher.

• Fremont Street was named after John Fremont who was the Republican presidential candidate in 1856. His running mate as vice president was William Dayton, and Dayton Street is named for him. Fremont lost to James Buchanan.

• In 1869, Rockford built a new three-story brick school building by bonding the district for $20,000. The school housed all grade levels most of the time for many years before being destroyed by fire in February 1922.

• A new school, with all rooms on one floor andhousing all grades of Rocford students from 1923 to 1954, was built on North Main Street.

• Parkside Elementary School was built to ease the overcrowding of the school on North Main by moving the lower grades out of the building to the new location on Lewis Street.

• The coming of the railroad to our town caused a name change from Laphamville to Rockford, because railroad officials wanted a different name.

• A major fire in April 1878 destroyed several Rockford downtown buildings.

• Another fire in December 1883 demolished about 75 percent of the Rockford downtown businesses about 10 days before Christmas.

• A third fire in April 1896 burned out businesses on the block between Bridge and Courtland streets on the east side of Main Street.

• Many of the brick buildings that are now (2012) on the east side of Main Street between Bridge and Courtland were built after the fire of 1896. The Hessler Opera House is one of them. So is the building housing the Rogue River Tavern.

Let’s conclude this section with a trivia question. If you know the correct answer, contact me at (616) 866-0530 or The Rockford Squire at (616) 866-4465. Each correct responder will receive a surprise gift that can be picked up at the Squire office.

The trivia question is: “In 1910, what was the tallest building in Rockford?”

Finally, please consider supporting our project

of moving the museum. Donations can be sent to: Rockford Area Historical Society, PO Box 781, Rockford, MI 49341. Thanks for your help with this positive endeavor.

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