Rockford Area Historical Society News for 6-27-19

By Terry Konkle – President

The last “Nugget” of Rockford history asked for the location of a building that housed many different things including Rockford town facilities. I received eight replies along with several comments. Verna Ashley, Deb Vogel, Marty Vogel, Bill Boyd, Dave Hutchings, Lee Paull, Sally Judson and Terri Byrne all knew that the “Fire Barn” was on the north side of Bridge Street across from the present one. It was east of the building that now houses the “Rogue River Tavern” and west of the building that held the bowling alley. At that time there was an alley between the tavern building and the fire barn. I appreciate that readers find the time to take part in the quizzes and to contribute information.

After the old “Fire Barn” was taken down, the bowling alley expanded by adding an addition to the west of its original spot allowing for the addition of several bowling lanes and closing off the alley. Some readers remembered the license bureau at the location and also taking their driver’s test. One responder told of an incident where a driver went over the curb. Bob Winegar  told me at a Rockford Area Historical Society (RAHS) meeting that the courthouse used to be in the old building. A couple of readers recalled a small office being located to the east of the bowling alley. I think it is still there but closed off. I remember it as a lawyer’s office when I came to the city in 1960.

One reader, Terri Gogo Byrne, lived on the southwest corner of Bridge and Monroe Streets (where city hall is today-2019) and remembers that her mother got cited for having an expired driver’s license. Terri wrote “She had no excuse because we lived right across the street.” Terri also remembered that the building sat back away from the sidewalk and had a metal bar that kids would swing on at times.  “ We liked to look in the jail but it was scary.” For readers who might not have seen the old building, there is a picture of it with the column.

I mentioned, in an earlier column, that Ross Squires built the enclosure that held the old “fire barn”. He used it as a storage building. He lived in a large house on Maple Street where he had a tennis court put in for his daughter Marion to use. She became an excellent player who also excelled at golf (more in a future column). The house is still there and has been kept in nice condition. For many years it held a business that was important to our town and area. All right, here is a new “Nugget” to ponder”. What business was located later in Ross Squire’s home? Please contact me with your answers by using email (tnjkonkle@hotmail.com) or phone at 616-866-0530.

I will close this week on a personal note. For the last three years, I have been fortunate to be a part of the “Start of Summer” parade as a member of the Rockford City Council. I like to walk and pass out candy to both children and adults who align the parade route. To see the happy and excited faces of children is a wonderful thing, but even more impressive each year is the attitude expressed by the people of all ages. It would be impossible for me to count the number of times the words “THANK YOU” were expressed. To be a part of this positive environment is very uplifting and inspirational for me, and I always feel so proud of the actions I see.

As always, please contact me with your comments, questions, concerns, column suggestions, ideas and, of course, corrections. HAVE A GREAT, POSITIVE WEEK!