Terry Konkle Photo by Cliff Hill

President, Rockford Area Historical Society

Readers have another week to answer the last “Nugget of Rockford History” question. I have received several correct answers to “Who was Thor?” and also some Thor stories. I will use the column next week to cover the Thor information. Contact me at (616) 866-0530 with your Thor details!

While talking with a Rockford High School graduate at the Golden R meeting on June 30, 2012, I was surprised to hear that that person did not know our town had a museum. The Golden R committee sent out museum fundraising materials with their invitations this year and that was the first this out-of-state resident had heard of our museum. Later, that same day I spoke with a 1962 Rockford graduate who said, “I know we have a museum, but where is it, and when is it open?” He followed with, “Where will the new museum be?” Earlier that same day we had a booth set up at the Rockford Farmer’s Market with our scratch-off fundraising cards and many helped us and also asked how we were progressing. Sunday morning I wrote down some statements that might help answer some questions.

It is a fact that Rockford does have a museum that is presently located on East Bridge Street beside the Rockford Dam. The Rockford Area Historical Society has run the museum using volunteer directors and volunteer help in a building that has no bathroom or running water. The building is owned by the City of Rockford and leased by the Society.

It is a fact that the Society has signed a lease with the City to move into the vacant 63rd District courthouse. When we move into the new building, our lease on the present museum will end. The City will control what happens after we leave. We will hire a part-time museum director and be open at least 22 regular hours a week when the move is made. Volunteers will still be important to running the museum.

It is a fact that the Society has raised enough money to renovate the building and is working with the City to follow the lease agreement as work begins. When the courthouse building is renovated, an auction will be held to raise further funds. We need additional money to build exhibits and move our artifacts. Part of the exhibit money is pledged but the auction is crucial. The plan is to have an annual auction to help fund the everyday running of the museum. Other monies have been pledged to help with museum expenses.

It is a fact that we need donations for our auction. Lots of information is available for this project, but readers can call (616) 485-4144 or (616) 866-0530. We can also use volunteers to help us. We are planning a live auction, a silent auction and an online auction.

It is a fact that the new museum will be a positive improvement for our community. We will have restrooms, adequate parking, safe and improved exhibit areas, better storage, regular hours and a greatly improved access to our displays. The new museum will be located on the west side of the parking lot by the fire department and city hall.

It is a fact that when we started the fundraising part of this expansion project that several potential donors had doubts whether we would be successful. Some said they would wait to see what was going to happen and would donate at a later time. Several of those people have now donated or pledged, but we need the others if they are still inclined.

Finally, it is a fact that we are going to have a new museum and that this project has been a unifying force for our community. That’s always good! Any questions or comments can be sent my way.

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The Squire has been Rockford’s free weekly newspaper since 1871. Our loyal readership includes over fifteen thousand homes in the Rockford area, including the affluent Lakes area of Lake Bella Vista, Bostwick Lake and Silver Lake; Belmont, Blythefield, as well as Algoma, Courtland, Cannon and Plainfield Townships. The Squire is distributed through the U.S. Post Office every Thursday. We also deliver to in-town businesses and homes with paper carriers and news stands in our grocery stores and over thirty local shops.