Structures from Great Depression

Structures from Great Depression tell story of Rockford today, Part II

May 10, 2012 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA The Depression was marked by the “alphabet soup” of government-funded employment to keep people working. The CWA was just one—also keeping men at work was the Civilian Conservation Corp, the Works Project Administration (which was jokingly referred to as “Water, Piss and Air.” The projects were usually infrastructure ones to the benefit of the public. In Rockford, the projects were mostly city streets and water from 1935 to 1936 and the Michigan State Police Post in 1935 and 1936. A 200,000-gallon water storage tank was among the projects, a structure still in existence (although not currently used) up by the water tower on the hill behind North Rockford Middle School. The East Maple, Lincoln and Dayton streets were paved, and evacuated dirt filled in the swamp that used to exist where the Community Cabin is now located. DeMaagd noted that architecture of the State Police Post may have been influenced by the style of Frank Lloyd Wright’s “New School of the Middle West” as evidenced by structural earmarks of the style: tapestry brick, porch, patio base, stone around the door and the belt course above the floor level of the second floor. A glance at Rockford’s Michigan State Police Post clearly shows the influence of the famous architect. The style is here today for those who take a look and see what is here today. DeMaagd said the buildings erected during those times were not solely funded by the government works projects, which largely provided labor. Material for the Community Cabin was in part financed by Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, who held fundraisers. “Raising money is not a new idea,” said DeMaagd. “They raised money for the Community Cabin in the middle of the Depression.” Two other Depression-era constructions were the Rockford Post Office, authorized by a special act of Congress, and the Rockford Library, a gift of GA Krause. In 1940, the mural inside the Post Office, which visitors to the building can still admire, was installed by Pierre Bourdelle, a New York artist. Rockford probably was selected to have a post office because at that time Wolverine was a major parcel post user. Artists vied for the honor of being chosen to have their work installed in the public […]