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Winnebago County Historical Buildings

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Winnebago County is blessed with many interesting historical buildings. Memorial Hall, located in downtown Rockford, was dedicated in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt as the first memorial building in the nation. The building contains many old artifacts and is open to the public on a daily basis.

Tinker Swiss Cottage, located southwest of downtown, was built as a replica of an original 1873 Swiss barn. The magnificent structure boasts parquet floors, ornate woodwork, murals, sculptures and a spiral staircase. A restored heirloom rose garden is perfect for summer strolls and the replication of a hanging bridge over Kent Creek was recently completed. Historical gardens are being developed based on Mr. Tinker’s original gardens on the opposite side of the creek.

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The Coronado Theater, also in downtown Rockford, has been heralded as Rockford’s “Wonder Theater.” Built in 1927 as a movie house and vaudeville theater, the Coronado underwent an 18-month, $18.5 million renovation and expansion and now plays host to well-known performers (including Rockford’s very own Cheap Trick), Broadway plays, the Rockford Symphony Orchestra and the Community Concert Association.

Many local museums are located in historic houses, including the Erlander Home Museum, an 1871 Swedish home featuring ornate stenciling and original works of art by owner John Erlander’s daughter, Mary. The home is located in Rockford’s historic Haight-Village neighborhood, just south of downtown Rockford. Mr. Erlander built the brick home for his family as a symbol of success in the new country. A new cultural center designed to look like a Swedish stuga will be built across the street from the Erlander Home in the near future.

The Graham-Ginestra House, located south of downtown, is a classic 1857 home featuring ceiling murals, a spiral staircase and beautiful gardens.

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The Elks Club in downtown Rockford is designated to be renovated and restored to its former grandeur with a large staircase and upstairs ballroom. The Rockford Elk’s Lodge was built as a meeting space and social hall for the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) Lodge #64 in 1912. The building, designed by Chicago architect Lawrence Buck, exhibits Classical Revival styling with a strong Prairie Style influence.

Historical buildings and homes are located in many of the small communities in rural Winnebago County. Rockton’s three-block downtown features many historic buildings, as does Pecatonica, Cherry Valley and Winnebago. Outside of Rockton is the Stephen Mack Home & Whitman Trading Post, a nineteenth century landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The 1856 Bushnell-Wheeler House houses the South Beloit Historical Society.

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