Rockford Area Historical Society News & Update

Photo by Cliff Hill
Photo by Cliff Hill



When my wife and I moved to Rockford in the summer of 1960, we soon found out about the Buena Vista Dairy Bar. Ice cream cones and malteds were part of our routine and as many readers know, the Buena Vista Dairy Bar building at the end of Lewis Street was a popular place for ice cream lovers. As the ninth grade football coach in the fall of 1960, I became aware of the fact that free treats were often available at the location for our victorious athletic teams. I can also recall several times that parents of our athletes would offer to treat our participants after practices on hot days. Coaches were treated also!

Two weeks ago the “Nugget of Rockford History” question asked for the name of the owner of the Buena Vista Dairy Bar. Many readers called with the name of John VanProoyen who not only owned the business, but also was very active in the history of our town. Many responders had positive memories of Mr. VanProoyen and his activities and contributions. I heard from: Bud Graverson, Helen Hessler, Dianne Skiver, Jan Konkle, Bev Rollenhagen, Ruthe Graves, Bob Boyer, Joan Bunn, Bob Burch, Ralph Gould, Martin Vogel, Linda Schuitman, Lue Hawkins, Bill Boyd, Zell Gill, Tom Combs, Shirley Norman, Lee Paull and Billie Hunt. My thanks to all of them for their interest and information. Here is a new “Nugget of Rockford History” question. “At one time there was a restaurant located on the Northwest corner of East Main and Northland Drive. What was the name of it?” Contact me with your answers (616-866-0530).

In the last month I have been reminded by readers that at one time Rockford had four grocery stores located downtown. According to what I have been told, they were all within about one hundred and fifty yards or less from each other. We also had four car dealerships in the same area. Bill Boyd answered a question about his father’s business. Some readers will recall Fred Boyd’s recreation or pool hall. Bill said that his dad bought the business in 1951 and ran it until 1980. I am sure that many residents remember it well.

The new museum displays for the main room to the right when one enters the building are being built and hopefully will be moved in the end of April or early May. This room will deal with the history of our town and we would like to have the room ready for viewing when the second graders from our area take their tour. The left room will be used to display certain areas of our history (schools, townships, athletics, military etc.) and those areas will be available in traditional form, but will not have new built displays until more financing is available.

Most of the work in the rooms at the rear of the museum is done. The rooms will hold offices, research areas and storage space. Some painting and cleanup is still needed there along with the placing of shelving, tables, desks, file cabinets and tables and chairs. We are getting closer all the time.

Presently, meetings are being held concerning coordinating with Wolverine World Wide to see what artifacts are available for our use. The Rockford Area Historical Society has some things we can use, but would like more. As readers might remember, Wolverine had a nice display of material at the shoehouse store at one time along with their own museum in a house up by their corporate offices. Some of the material from those places (if still around) would be helpful.

Finally, other meetings are happening concerning our second annual auction which will be held on September 28, 2013. This is our major fundraiser and we are looking forward to it. A lot of information will be presented to all as we prepare to once again offer a variety of excellent items for bidders to consider.

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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.