Rockford Area Historical Society News & Update

Terry Konkle – President


Even though the new Rockford Area Museum has not officially opened, many things have happened in the building. Several Rockford Area Historical Society Board meetings have been held in the research room. In recent months the fundraising auction group under the leadership of Roger Humbert has been using the main room that will be done during Phase Two for their planning. This past Saturday, September 14, 2013 the Rockford Rotary Club held their raffle drawing in the lobby while the Rockford High School Jazz Band played in the adjoining room. Many people who attended the raffle toured the completed part (Phase One – History Room) during their visit.

Readers should also know that near the end of August Rockford Public School administrator, Doctor Ryan Kelly, and a group of other educators and parents of students toured the building. The Rockford School system has been very supportive of our project in many ways including financial donations from Parkside, Valley View and Meadow Ridge elementary schools and North Rockford Middle School. I should also mention that many individuals have contacted us or simply stopped by when we were at the museum and have been shown through the rooms. I think we have done well for not opening yet.

As many readers probably know by now, the GRAND OPENING of Phase One will occur on Thursday, September 26, 2013 starting with a ribbon cutting at 6:00 P.M. The museum will then be open until 8:00 P.M. Everyone is invited to attend this positive event.

What about Phase Two? Planning for Phase Two is now in progress. Because of the addition of a learning center area, the design of the room will be changed from the original plan, but much of what was previously done will be used. The building of exhibits will follow but will take time. The exact date for opening the next phase is not known, but the public will be informed as soon as possible. We expect the same quality of workmanship and results as are seen in Phase One and will take whatever reasonable time that is needed to ensure another positive display area.

Is there still time to donate items for our September 28, 2013 fundraising auction? Yes! We could still use donations. We have been more selective this year, but have received many nice things. Last week, someone suggested to me that readers could purchase gift certificates and donate them. This might be something to consider for those who want to donate, but do not have an item to give. Interesting idea! Donations can be made by calling me (866-0530) or Al Pratt (485-4144). Roger Humbert is also at the museum on Tuesdays and Saturdays (9:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M.) to receive items.

The “Nugget of Rockford History” question asking for the business associated with Mel Baldwin was a challenge, but Lee Paull, Ruth Reickart, Bob Boyer, Scott Knecht, Marty Vogel, Lue Hawkins, Ruth Graves, Zell Gill, Nancy Simonis, Bob Winegar and Geri Winegar knew that the business was Sears-Coon. Readers also remembered Gary Baldwin and Gale Smyth and their running of the Sears-Coon business. Today, the building is occupied by Marinades and Gliks. My thanks to all for the interest and willingness to take part in the “Nugget” questions.

Here is a new “Nugget” to consider. This one was given to me by Charlie Hyde a couple of weeks ago. The question is: What Rockford building is currently on the site that once housed the “Betts House”?

The Betts House was a well known Rockford building for many years. Contact me (866-0530) with your answers!

Sometimes, I have asked our museum visitors what they liked about the new museum history room. One man liked the Indian artifacts. Another man said “the colorized early Rockford photo”. A young girl liked the owl. “His eyes follow you around the room” she said. Several liked the “mail buggy”. “I like the explanations that go along with the exhibits” replied a lady. Others said: “the fainting couch”, “the refrigerators”, “the fish” and “the tools”. It seems there are things for everyone to like and experience. How can a museum beat that?

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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.