Rockford Schools

In August of 1857, Rockford was divided into two school districts.  District 1 was

east of the river and had John Quincy Adams School.  District 2 was on the west

side and had Abraham Lincoln School.  Total enrollment was around 900.

Freeman School also was built in 1857.  A new district came into

being in the Kent and Montague area in 1858.  Still another was the John Hall

School at 414 North Third, named for Board of Education member John Hall.

This was built in 1866 and rebuilt in 1892.

Colonel E. F. Ellis School was the next school erected in Rockford in 1868 on

West State Street and rebuilt in 1899 on Elm Street.  It was named for the Civil

War hero.  Present-day Ellis School is the Ellis Arts Academy on Central Ave.

The latter two are shown below.

Hall School (1866)

Ellis Arts Academy

Other early schools are shown below:


Freeman School (1857)


Marsh School (1872)


Nelson School (1881)



Montague School (1883)


Garrison School (1887)


Lincoln School (1857)



Wight School (1889)


High School (1885)



Source:  Rockford Ill/Photo-Gravure Views and Brief Descriptive Sketch of the Forest City,

Rockford Real Estate Exchange, Rockford Ill, 1893.

Rockford To-Day, Rockford Morning Star, The Clark Company Press, Rockford,

Illinois, 1903.






Schools, 1902 – Montague School, Lincoln School, Kent School, Wight School

All schools shown were Public Elementary Schools:  Montague, Lincoln top row;  Kent School and Wight School, bottom row.

Source: 1902 Rockford, Illinois  R917.733 R5910

Montague School, 1306 s Court st

Lincoln School, North and Court sts.

Kent School, Kent St. corner s Winnebago st

Wight School, 4th av corner 10th St.

Address Source:  The Republic’s Rockford and Winnebago County Directory for 1902

Rockford Public Library – history of, Dave Oberg

Rockford Public Library

Article on history of the library by David Oberg

Rockford Library Association founded in 1852

In 1855, the Young Men’s Association proposed creating a library

In March 1857, shareholders paid $50 each to join

The first library was on the 3rd floor of the Robertson, Coleman Company, consisting of 1,000 volumes and 38 periodicals

During the Civil War, interest in the library declined, and the books were sold at public auction in 1865

The next version of the Rockford Public Library was founded by Elian Cosper, 1872

The Rockford Library reading room was opened on 08/01/1872

On 02/01/1873, the circulation department opened on the 2nd floor of northwest corner of State and Main, on “Wallach’s Block”

In July 1876, the library moved to the Post Office, on the 100 block of West State Street

In 1878, the library had its first withdrawals: 38 volumes worn out and 3 not returned by borrowers

In 1891, Mayor Starr appointed three women to the library board

In 1895, the board established 6 traveling libraries

In 1896, the library instituted a card catalogue

On 03/06/1901, Andrew Carnegie provided the opportunity to expand the library

The architects for the new library were Bradley and Carpenter

After discussion and delays the location on Wyman Street was chosen

The library was designed with twin entrances, East and West

In 1903, the new library housed a natural history collection. It was called the “Beattie Memorial Museum”

In 1904, the Rockford Public Library was free to Rockford residents, and $2 a year to Winnebago County residents

Also in 1904 the library has its first Child’s Room, and a branch on 7th Street

1905 photograph of library; Main Hall and Delivery Room

By 1917, there were library substations at Highland and Montague schools

In 1918, a thousand cards were given to Camp Grant soldiers

Also in 1918, a new Southeast branch was located at 1217 4th Avenue, and two deposit stations were created: at the W.C.T.U. (Women’s Christian Temperance Union) and at 1616 West State Street

By 1920, Rockford Public Library books were in 50 area schools

The Montague Branch Library was dedicated on 05/24/1923. The architect was Chester E. Wolfley. Montague was established in large part due to the St. Angel family

In 1925, the library opened the Fine Arts Room

By 1925, the Main Library was joined by five branches: Southeast, Highland, Montague, Rowland and West End

In 1929, circulation had risen to more than 500,000 items a year


Source:  “Nuggets of History”, Volume 44, December 2006, No. 4

Schureman, David S. – Architect

Schureman 1904 list

Advertisement from Rockford Daily Register-Gazette, December special edition 1904

Some addresses: Second Congregational Church – Church and North Sts.; City Hall – (in 1905): corner of 1st and Walnut St.; Appel’s Department Store – 117-121 West State St.; Svea Soner Music Hall – 326-328 7th St.; F. G. Shoudy residence – N 2nd St near Sinnissippi Park; Mrs, Julia P. Warren’s residence – 711 No. Main St.; W.A.. Stapleton’s residence – 1731 National Ave.; J. B. Whitehead’s residence – 848 No. Main St.; Robert Lind’s residence – 506 Gregory St.; E. E. Bartlett’s residence – 805 No. Court; Wm. Winter’s residence – 1728 National Ave.; Aubrey Barnes’ residence – 1701 National Ave.; Frithiof F. Nelson’s residence: 1315 National Ave.; A.E. Lindsay’s residence – 507 Kent St.; Swedish Lutheran Church parsonage – Third St. and College Ave.; Illinois Stationery Co. – 311-13 So. Main St.; Mendelssohn Hall – 513 West State St.; Trinity Lutheran Church – 218 N 1st St.; Rockford High School – 219-227 So. Madison St.; Freeman School So. 2th St. and 2nd Ave.; Brown School – Brown School – 8th St. corner 16th Ave.;Lincoln School – Court St. NE corner Park Ave.; Hall School – 426 N 3rd St.; Blake School – Chestnut SE corner Court St.; Garrison School – N. Court corner John St.; Jackson School – Jackson between Crosby and Benton St.; Montague School – Court St corner Montague St.; St. James School – Lafayette Ave corner 2nd St.

Source of addresses: most from 1905 The Republic’s Rockford and Winnebago County Directory