Demolition uncovers time capsule tucked inside Rockford’s BMO Center

Demolition uncovers time capsule tucked inside Rockford’s BMO Center

Demolition of the Jack Daniels Lounge inside Rockford’s BMO Center this summer has led to the discovery of a time capsule that was placed inside a wall of the downtown arena more than 40 years ago.

According to BMO’s Center’s Facebook page, construction workers stumbled upon the time capsule as they worked on a renovation project.

BMO Center General Manager Gretchen Gilmore said the time capsule was not disturbed, and that the center will build its new bar area around the time capsule, protecting and preserving it until the date on the outside — July 4, 2076.

No one is quite sure what’s inside the box, but the plaque on the outside stating it should be opened when Winnebago County celebrates the nation’s tricentennial.

Forty years ago, the BMO Center was called the Metro Centre. Former Metro Centre General Manager Doug Logan, who is now 80 and living in Saratoga, New York, said he was project coordinator for the construction of the Metro Centre, which opened Jan. 31, 1981.

“We took a lot of care preparing this ‘message in a bottle.'” Logan wrote. “My lips are sealed regarding details of the contents.”

A time capsule to be opened July 4, 2076 is in encased in a cinder block wall at the BMO Center in Rockford.
A time capsule to be opened July 4, 2076 is in encased in a cinder block wall at the BMO Center in Rockford.

Logan said he and others pledged to never speak of what they put inside the time capsule.

“This is part of the heritage of this wonderful city, and I am thrilled the vessel is being treated with reverence,” he wrote. “See you in 2076!”

BMO Center General Manager Gretchen Gilmore said the time capsule was discovered, encased in a cinder block wall, in mid-June.

The outside reads: “A time to remember. Sealed by the Winnebago County Bicentennial Commission in anticipation of observance of our nation’s tricentennial observance.”

Below the seal, a typed message states in part: “2076! Another hundred years has passed! Although time has silenced our voices, may you still hear their echo, wishing you well as you celebrate this important moment in history: an occasion for rededication, commemoration of accomplishments, and an assessment of where you and where you are going.”

Logan said the commission had just gone through the bicentennial celebration in 1976 when the idea of making a time capsule surfaced.

“We had some memorabilia from that,” he said. “And we thought that the tricentennial was an appropriate date.”

Renovations are underway in the Jack Daniel's Lounge in the BMO Center. However, a time capsule seen on the left in the rear of the picture encased in the cinder block wall will remain undisturbed.
Renovations are underway in the Jack Daniel’s Lounge in the BMO Center. However, a time capsule seen on the left in the rear of the picture encased in the cinder block wall will remain undisturbed.

Elmlawn Apartments Demolished, formerly the Elmlawn Sanitarium

Collected news articles about the failed building inspections, code violations, condemned status, and final demolition of the Elmlawn Apartments, formerly known as the Ransom Sanitarium, Wilgus Sanitarium, and finally, Elmlawn Sanitarium.

Address was 4500 N. 2nd Street and/or 4500 Illinois Street

Sources are noted below each article.

Source: Register Republic, July 3, 1969, pages A1 and A2.

Source: Rockford Morning Star, July 9, 1969, page A19.

Source: Register Republic, September 17, 1969, page 3.

Source: Register Republic, September 17, 1969, page 3.


Source: Register Republic, March 2, 1970, page 4.

Source: Register Republic, March 2, 1970, page 4.

Source: Register Republic, January 4, 1972, page 24.

Source: Rockford Morning Star, January 20, 1972, page A3.

Source: Rockford Morning Star, January 20, 1972, page A3.

Source: Rockford Morning Star, February 18, 1972, page 3.

Source: Rockford Morning Star, February 18, 1972, page 3.

Source: Rockford Morning Star, January 2, 1976, page 6.

Ransom Sanitarium Boulder and Plaque Location

Ransom Sanitarium boulder and plaque is located in this park on the Rock River near the intersection or Illinois Street/Ransom Place.

Address is 4500 N 2nd St, Loves Park, IL 61111.

Starting in 1887, the building was Ransom Sanitarium, then became Wilgus Sanitarium, then Elmlawn/Wilgus Sanitarium, and lastly, it turned into Elmlawn Apartments. Newspaper articles note owner of the property is Dr. Carl Hamann from 1940 until it is demolished in 1972.

Photos taken by Librarian, Amber K. on July 23, 2023.

Redevelopment of the Former Barber-Colman Factory in Rockford

 The former Barber-Colman Co. complex on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in south Rockford. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)

ROCKFORD — Developer J. Jeffers & Co. on Tuesday announced it has signed its redevelopment agreement with the city, officially marking the start of a massive undertaking to transform the vacant Barber-Colman factory into a mix of apartments and businesses.

The Milwaukee-based developer made the announcement less than 24 hours after City Council members unanimously approved the agreement Monday night. The vote came after more than a week of contentious debate, and J. Jeffers’ announcement signals its commitment to go forward with the project.

“We have been working in full collaboration with Rockford city staff to make Colman Yards a reality the past two years,” Joshua Jeffers, CEO and founder of J. Jeffers. “The level of perseverance and due diligence needed to align the large-scale, highly complex capital resources and deal parameters of this project is a victory for the thousands of hours of effort inside our organization, across all of City Hall, the offices of our many local Rockford partners, and for the community at-large.”

The company expects to start the $170 million first phase of the project later this summer. In that phase, with portions expected to be complete in 2025 and 2026, nine long vacant historic buildings along South Main and Loomis streets will be redeveloped into 334 apartments and 105,000 square feet of commercial space. A new 336-space parking deck would also be built.

The total project would be built in phases over roughly a decade and is expected to cost roughly $430 million. It would transform the 26-acre site into 964 living units and roughly 130,000 square feet of commercial space.

“I’m thrilled that, after two years of research, due diligence and design work, we have a signed development agreement with J. Jeffers for our Barber-Colman complex,” Mayor Tom McNamara said in a news release. “This will be a transformational project for our entire community and will be an incredible complement to our other redevelopment efforts, including the recently renovated Embassy Suites Hotel, along a major thoroughfare into our city. We’re grateful for J. Jeffers’ partnership, and we can’t wait to see the incredible vision for Colman Yards become a reality.”

J. Jeffers said the past two years has included more than 20 rounds of public meetings, numerous community engagement sessions, a request-for-proposal bidding process with a state prevailing wage agreement, thousands of hours on design and construction planning, grant writing, public incentive applications and complicated capital markets and loan commitments.

“We would especially like to thank Mayor McNamara, the resilient and capable city of Rockford staff, the supporting City Council members and the entire community of Rockford for the amazing amount of support and civic engagement we received for this development,” Brian Loftin, chief development officer for J. Jeffers & Co., said in an a news release. “When we began this open journey of imagining what’s possible for the Barber-Colman site in conjunction with the city and all that participated from the very beginning, we felt the energy of change and greatly appreciate their willingness in shaping this collective vision.”

The former manufacturing site dates back to 1907 and at one time employed more than 3,000 people. Barber-Colman operated on the site until 1984, when the business was sold to Reed-Chatwood Inc., which operated until the late 1990s. The city has owned the property since 2002, and J. Jeffers & Co. will buy it for $500,000 as part of its redevelopment agreement.

This article is by Kevin Haas. Email him at  or follow him on Twitter at @KevinMHaas or Instagram @thekevinhaas and Threads @thekevinhaas

Source: Haas, Kevin. “Developer J. Jeffers & Co. Signs Deal Committing To Redevelop the Former Barber-Colman Factory in Rockford.” Rock River Current. July 18, 2023. Accessed July 20, 2023.

The Intern’s Guide to Rockford, Illinois

The Intern’s Guide to Rockford, Illinois

Thursday, June 22, 2023 3:00 PM by Bronwyn Geddes

Article can be found at this link:

Rockford has so many incredible restaurants, attractions, and locally owned shops that it is hard to know where to start when planning a day in the city. I am here to help! In this intern’s guide to Screw City, I’ll point you in the direction of some of my favorite spots in Rockford to add to your must-see list of places to visit! 


Rockford Art Deli 402 E. State Street, Rockford, IL. 61104

You simply cannot visit Rockford without making a stop at Rockford Art Deli to take a little bit of the city home with you. RAD is the premier destination for merchandise of all things Rockford related. They have a vast supply of t-shirts, stickers, glasses, patches, and many other items all designed with Rockford in mind. Whether you are a first-time traveler to the city, or are a long-time native, make sure to grab a souvenir at Rockford Art Deli to keep that Rockfordian spirit with you wherever you go!


Beef-a-Roo 2558 Auburn St., 61116 N 2nd St., 3401 S Alpine Rd., 6593 Lexus Dr., 1608 N Alpine Rd., 6380 E Riverside Rd., 4601 Adamson Ln., 5109 Rockrose Ct.

If you are in town and looking for a quick bite to eat, take a swing through Rockford’s very own, Beef-a-Roo. This fast-food chain is local to the Rockford area and has been since its start in 1967. There are 8 locations across the Rockford region, so it is always right around the corner when you are hungry for some cheese fries and a chocolate shake (or one of their gourmet salads if you’re in the mood for something light and fresh). Don’t miss out on this Rockford classic food stop.


JMK Nippon 2251 N Perryville Rd. Rockford, IL 61107

If you have a little more time to sit down for a meal, I recommend heading to JMK Nippon for some authentic Japanese food served Hibachi style. They are open for lunch in their café and dinner that comes with a show! JMK never fails to entertain guests while preparing their food and has been building that reputation since 1984 when it opened in Rockford. This family-owned restaurant is perfect for newcomers to the city, as well as lifelong residents.


Inzombia Coffee 306 E State St, Rockford, IL 61107

A recent addition to Rockford’s growing list of coffee shops is Inzombia Coffee on East State Street. The shop opened in June 2022 and has been thriving ever since. The storefront is full of 90s nostalgia and allows customers to adapt drinks to their specific tastes. They are constantly adding to and evolving their menu and ‘blend’ perfectly with Rockford’s coffee crowd. If you are looking for something to keep you energized during a day in town, stop by Inzombia for the perfect pick-me-up!

B @ mural

Downtown Murals Map of the Murals

Thanks to the CRE8IV Transformational Art Festival, which has been held in Rockford each summer since 2019, over 30 murals have been added to Rockford’s art landscape across the city. I highly recommend mapping out the locations of the artworks and taking a driving tour past each of them. They are a gorgeous backdrop for Rockford inspired photoshoots and make a perfect addition to any visit to the city.

Rock Cut State Park kayaking

Rock Cut State Park 7223 W Lane Rd. Caledonia, IL

My favorite place to spend time outdoors in Rockford is Rock Cut State Park. This state park covers 3,092 acres and features both Pierce Lake and Olson Lake for fishing, boating, kayaking, and other water activities. The Outdoor Store is operated by Rocktown Adventures and offers watercraft rentals, bait for sale, kayaking safety classes, and stand-up paddleboarding lessons. Connected to the Outdoor Store is Lone Rock Café which offers food and drinks to replenish park goers during a day of adventuring. Rock Cut is the perfect spot to spend an hour, a day, or a weekend either on the water, hiking, picnicking, or camping.

riverfront museum

Riverfront Museum Campus Ste 3, 711 N Main St. Rockford, IL 61103

Learning comes to life at the Riverfront Museum Park! At Burpee Museum of Natural History, you can learn about our very own Jane the dinosaur and other prehistoric creatures. Or, you can explore the wonderful world of science through family friendly experiments, activities, crafts, and games at the Discovery Center Children’s Museum. If you are looking for a more refined experience, then check out the Rockford Art Museum and their collection of modern and contemporary American artworks. The Riverfront Museum Park has a little something for everyone and is perfect for a fun and educational day in Rockford for the whole family!


Bronwyn Geddes is a Summer 2023 Intern for the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. She graduated from RCS in 2021 and currently attends Bradley University where she will be graduating in 2025 with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Leadership. She is a Rockford native and is so fortunate to have the opportunity to work for the CVB with such an incredible and fun team of people. She is a chai fanatic so you can always find her taste testing the newest coffee shops’ renditions of the classic tea latte.

A Brief History of Blackhawk Furniture Company

View this brief history of Blackhawk Furniture Company from Midway Village Museum’s Rockford Furniture Industry Resource Packet , found at this website link

Source: Midway Village Museum. Rockford Furniture Industry Resource Packet. Creation date unknown. Accessed June 23, 2023.

West Side Coal Company Delivery

It is believed the man in this truck is John Stassi (b.1889 – d.1970). He began to deliver coal in 1921 for various firms.
John Stassi started his own coal company, Stassi Coal Company, located at 521 16th Avenue, as seen below in the 1933 and 1934 Rockford City Directories.
This photograph was attained by a family donation at RPL’s Community Scan Day event on April 8, 2023.
Source: 1933 McCoy’s Rockford City Directory.

Source: 1934 McCoy’s Rockford City Directory.

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