W. F. Barnes Mansion. “The tragic history of the Barnes Mansion”

Barnes Mansion - 1

Source:  The Rock River Times July 13 – 19, 2016

Barnes Mansion - 2_0001


Main St., No., 813 – Museum of Natural History

Main St., No., 813 - 1

Owned by William Fletcher Barnes (W.F. and John Barnes Co.) 1874-1930, his daughter, Amy Barnes Pierce Lane 1930-1936, and by Rockford Park District 1937 – to date.  Prior to 1874, the land was the Starr homestead.  According to the Rockford Morning Star 2/20/1892, Henry Lord Gay was the architect of this house.

Main St., No., 813 - 2

Source of photos:  Jan Carter 2011

Main St., No., 813 - 3

Main St., No., 813 - 4

Main St., No. 813 - 5

East side of house facing Rock River, “back porch”



W.F. and John Barnes Co. factory – 1891

WF and John Barnes Co. 1891

W.F. & John Barnes Co.; W.F. Barnes, prest; B. Frank Barnes, vice-prest; John Barnes, secy. and treas. Machine shops. Manufacturers of foot and steam power, iron and woodworking machinery. 301 – 309 S. Water St.  Text source: 1892 Philippi’s Rockford City Directory

Source of rendering: “Industrial and Picturesque Rockford,” by Eugene Browne and F. Ford Rowe, 1891




Main St., North, 813 – Barnes Mansion

Main St., N, 813 Barnes

“This stately home at 813 N. Main St. was headquarters of the Park District from 1939 to 1871. Burpee Museum of Natural History used the upper floors during that period and the entire building when Park District offices moved. The building now house administrative offices for Burpee.”

Source: Building a Lasting Dream,” by Webbs Norman

[Originally was the W.F. Barnes mansion]

Beefsteak Club

“Beefsteak Club Plans For Dinner – Two outings a month decided on – Ladies as guests”

“Annual party – January 19th – Entertainment committee appointed – Officers re-elected at business session – Ladies arrange for dinner.”

The annual meeting of the Beefsteak Club was held with President W. F. Barnes at his home on North Main Street last night

The club will have two outings a month this season and both will be ladies nights

The Beefsteak Club is the oldest of the outings clubs, being formed about 20 years ago.  (ie about 1890)

Original members of the club have reached an age when indulgence in a baseball game every Wednesday during the summer is too strenuous, reduced to second and fourth Wednesday

Members would not hear of abandoning the club as too strong a bond of fellowship has been wielded by twenty years of association

32 members enjoyed dinner at the Barnes home last night.  Dinner was laid in the Billiards Room

Dinner was followed by a smoker and the business session

Re-elections:  William F. Barnes, President; Chandler Starr, Vice President; E. M. St. John, Secretary; and Dr. Sanford Catlin, Treasurer

Wednesday evening, January 19th was selected for the mid-winter picnic at Unity Hall, at the corner of North Main and Mulberry

While the men were dining at the Barnes home, their wives were dining at the Thadwa (University Club)

Mrs. E. E. Bartlett was chosen Chairman of the supper committee


Source:  Rockford Morning Star, 01/06/1910