Rockford Area Historical Society News & Update

Terry Konkle Photo by Cliff Hill

Terry Konkle – President


One day last week a long time friend and I did some reminiscing about Rockford athletics and considered the changes over the years. This experience caused me to recall other memories of our area, and I thought I would mention a few in this column.

Let’s begin with a few of the many places that have changed! There used to be a Texaco gas station (Fonger’s) where a bike shop is today. There was a movie theater where a parking lot now exists behind Gliks. There was a Sunoco station on the northeast corner of Fremont and Division (I often bought my Sunday paper there). A Men’s Shop run by Howard Morehouse was in part of Aunt Candy’s present day building. A barber shop with its own entrance was on Main Street in the back of what used to be Power’s Drug Store (now a frame shop). An old house stood about where the Rotary Pavilion is today.

Some readers will remember the building of the new bridge extending Division Street over the river and the removal of several homes. How about two of our well known doctors with offices in houses? Doctor Ferrand practiced out of a house where Rockford Community Federal Credit Union now does business, and Doctor DeMaagd in the house which was just renovated by Morris Builders. A lot of young athletes played on a baseball field at Rotary Park or at a very nice ball diamond by Parkside Elementary School. Fields were also located behind Valley View school for a time and then in front of the school.

Tennis courts were across the street from Parkside school on Lewis Street (basketball courts today), and gas pumps were located between the courts and the school building. I remember filling the tanks of cars used for Driver’s Education at those pumps.

The area behind the old high school on North Main (Administration Office etc. today) was our home football field for nearly thirty years and then a practice area for over forty more. Today, a community garden area has taken over part of the space.

Of course, the recent demolition of many of the buildings housing Wolverine World Wide has changed the landscape on Main Street. I am sure that many readers have their Wolverine recollections. As a teacher at Rockford High School and an advisor to the National Honor Society for several years, I only had to make a phone call to Wolverine and our annual banquet expenses would be taken care of by the company.

Finally, I need to recognize Jan Trapp and Barbara Driscoll for knowing that Fremont Street was named after a presidential candidate John Fremont (1856). Dayton Street was named after his running mate William Dayton. They lost their bid for the presidency. Next week I will present another “Nugget of Rockford History” question concerning an event that greatly tested our community and its members. We responded in a typical positive Rockford fashion. We met the challenge “head on” and showed all what our area could do!

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