Rockford Area Historical Society

Terry Konkle – President

Photo by Cliff Hill
Photo by Cliff Hill

The preparation for moving to the new museum is not just a matter of taking things from one building and placing them in another. For readers not familiar with the old museum, the building consists of three areas leased by the Rockford Area Historical Society. One large room is used to display artifacts in several exhibits. This room is entered through the main door (only door) which is located roughly in the middle of the east wall. There is a wooden ramp outside which leads to the entrance of the building. There are no steps. The furnace is located in a small space on the inside north wall. There is a closet in the main room and it is packed with stuff.

To the north of the main area is a second room which was built on by society volunteers when we first moved in. That room is called the Burch Room after Homer Burch a well- known Rockford historian and writer. Homer Burch was one of the founders of the historical society. His book “From Sawmill To City” along with his weekly column in the ROCKFORD REGISTER did a great job of educating people on the history of our town. It was very fitting that a room be dedicated to him.

The Burch Room is used mostly for storage of research material along with some pictures and maps. Office space is also in the room along with space for people to work on various things. Some other things are also stored in portions of the room. Many filing cabinets and bookshelves line the walls.

Under the Burch Room is a basement area which houses all of the things that do not fit upstairs. The entrance to the basement is at ground level on the west side. A sliding wooden door with a lock protects the area with a sliding metal screen door also available. Some readers might recall that the basement door used to be opened and visitors could view a display of an early Rockford area mail buggy through the screen.

The lower room over the years has become a place to put all kinds of things. The room is divided into two parts and both sections have become packed with items. It is doubtful that anyone knows exactly what is there. Preparing to move to the new museum means that the basement area needs to be organized and decisions have to be made on the artifacts that are crammed into the space.

So far, with the help of a safe moving company and some Rockford city workers, we have moved a heavy safe, the mail wagon, a sleigh, a large trunk, several boxes of papers, a large, bulky cash register and a few smaller things. This has opened up some space so that we can sort through the hundreds of other items. Who knows what we might find? The other storage area under the museum main room is used by the city of Rockford, so we do not have to move anything from there. We also do not have to move any rest room things. Probably the only time we can be happy that we never had a rest room or running water.

This week materials from the Burch Room will be carefully moved into the new museum. We could use some help if readers are inclined to volunteer. Please call Al Pratt (616-485-4144) or Terry Konkle (616-866-0530) for more details.


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