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The Whitestone Apartments located at 529 North Main Street were built in 1925 at a cost of more than $200,000. The building was erected by the North Main Building Corporation, a group of local architects, contractors and businessmen including Edward A. Peterson, president; A. Martin Grip, vice president; Frank E. Holmquist, secretary; Elmer O. Bergren, treasurer and Gilbert A. Johnson, manager. Designed by famed local architects Peterson & Johnson and built by Holmquist & Peterson who were granted the general contract for the new apartments and the razing of the old Dickerman residence that was situated on the property.
The four story fireproof structure was constructed in an English style. There were 33 apartments, which varied in size with the majority of them being furnished. There were two storefronts on the Main Street entrance floor, one of which was later occupied by a restaurant and the other space occupied by a gift shop.
The entrance is highly appealing being very ornate cut stone. As its name implies, the building is made from white stone, and stood out prominently in what was one of the city's most desirable residential districts at the time. The structure covers the greater part of the property. Reinforced concrete, brick and stone was used throughout in the construction while Bedford stone was used on the first story which extends toward the street line and light gray faced brick was used on all sides of the upper stories. Located on the bend in North Main Street, it allowed an imposing view from either direction. The property has a frontage on North Main of 84-1/2 feet and extends back 161 feet toward Indian Terrace.
The ground floor contains a spacious and well appointed lobby, 25 X 27 feet, tiled floors and ornamental plaster and stucco ceilings besides an English basement tea room, doctor's apartment and office and a suite for the janitors use. At the rear of the building, the basement proper housed heating and boiler rooms, laundry and storage rooms. All interior partitions were of fireproof gypsum blocks and wood trim was in silver gray oak. The building was one of the finest and most modern in the city. The first second and third floors connected by elevators each contained ten spacious apartments and a bathroom with tile floor and wainscot. An attractive community roof garden with a pergola roof graced the top the big building, this was to serve tenants in place of individual porches. The garden was 26 by 38 feet in size.
Electricity played an important part in any modern building, and the Whitestone was no exception as electrical refrigeration and attractive lighting fixtures where used throughout the building with many electrical outlets to plug in new electric appliances and lights.
Another interesting feature of the Whitestone was that as many materials as possible were purchased from local concerns, Blomquist Furniture store supplied and laid the linoleum, and A. Leath and Company furnished and laid the Wilton carpeting and hung the window shades. Holmquist Fuel and Lumber supplied the cement, wall plaster, partition tile, steel windows and metal lath. All the locks and hardware came from Skandia Hardware Company. Locally manufactured Roper gas ranges were installed in the Whitestone. J. H. Collins was the rental agent for the building.
In November of 1935 plans were made to build a National Guard Armory just north of the Whitestone Apartment building when the neighboring Wormwood residence and another residence owned by the Knights of Columbus was purchased. Once the armory was built almost to North Main Street, it forever altered the view looking north from the Whitestone. The building was acquired by the Rockford Life Insurance company in 1940 but was sold four years later in April 1944 to the Illinois Bank and Trust Company acting as agents for a syndicate of 10 Rockford men.
Many of the old mansions that used to line Main Street slowly faded into memory as they were replaced with commercial businesses and high rise apartment buildings. The beautiful Whitestone Apartments still stand at 529 North Main.
The Windsor apartment building located at 902 - 910 North Main Street at the northwest corner of Whitman Street was constructed in 1916 by Sherman B. Letts and George W Bennett at a cost of $110,000. Rockford Architects Carpenter & Bradley designed the project, and W. H. Cook was the contractor for the Windsor apartment building. Cook who was a contractor here since 1896, had erected some of the best buildings in the city, such as Rockford High School, Rockford Trust Building, Memorial Hall, Carnegie library, and the Elks Club. These apartments were extremely unusual at the time. The beautiful brick and stone building was built in the arts and crafts style, which started in Europe in the 1880's and continued in this country until the 1920's. Unlike the earlier Victorian style, the arts and crafts style focuses on simplicity. There are many examples of this style architecture around the "Wrigleyville" area in Chicago. The Windsor was modern in every detail. The eighteen unit apartment building included a mix of one, two and three bedroom apartments. Not only did the building feature an abundance of windows to flood the apartments with light but featured oak hardwood floors and woodwork. The 9-1/2 foot tall walls of each apartment have foot-tall molding at the baseboards, high ornate ceilings and at the chair rails.
Twelve of the apartments had sun parlors and the remaining six had balconies. All sun parlors were heated and finished just as nicely as any other room in the apartment. The living room and sun parlors, along with the halls, had a mahogany finish. The living rooms featured oak mantled fireplaces with built-in wood bookcases on either side. A very handsome large buffet was in each dining room, and the kitchens were done in an ivory finish with butler's pantries, built-in kitchen cabinets and a refrigerator in each apartment with an outside ice opening. The bathrooms were finished in white enamel, with mosaic tile floor with marble bases. The bathroom fixtures were all of the latest up to date style at the time, the lavatory being the same pattern as in the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago. Each bedroom was enameled in white and contained a full-length French plated mirror in the door. The decorations in the building were elaborate and very beautiful, including the lighting fixtures and hardware trim.
View of the Windsor construction - Main Street side.
The entrance vestibules had mosaic tile floors and there was a telephone system from the vestibule to each flat and the inside vestibule door could be opened from each flat by an electric opener. There was a central vacuum cleaning system throughout the entire building, which was operated by the janitor. The janitor service included the cleaning of all rugs in each apartment once a week. There was a janitor's flat in the basement and the janitor or his assistant were at the building all of the time. All entrance halls and stairs were lighted throughout the entire night with electric lights. A number of laundry rooms were built in the basement, along with storage lockers for the use of all the tenants. The building was steam heated and there was plenty of hot water for the use of all of the tenants, day or night all the year around. In the rear of the building, there was 13 garages which were rented to those tenants of the building who had autos. The garages were steam heated. In the center of the building on the Main Street side, in the first flat, or what is known as the English basement, there was a dance banquet hall, 15 X 52' in size, this room was very beautifully finished and lighted and was available for the use of all the tenants of the building. A well-equipped kitchen made easy the serving of refreshments, dressing rooms and lavatories also adjoined the ballroom. Card tables and chairs, a piano and a Victrola were some of the furnishings in the room. The Windsor Apartments had been totally rented before the first residents moved into the the building in 1917. They would include many well to do residents of this city.
In 1916 before the Windsor Apartments were completed the the partnership which existed between Sherman B. Letts and George M Bennett, 125 West State Street, was dissolved by mutual consent. Mr. Letts began in the real estate business here in 1906, forming a partnership with A. C. Horton. After being together over seven years, Horton retired on account of poor health and Letts conducted it alone until he became associated with Mr. Bennett. Letts purchased all of Bennett's holdings which permitted Bennett to retire from the firm with no responsibilities. This firm had been doing business since 1914 and previous to this time both men had extensive experience in the same line of work. They dealt in real estate, brokerage, home building, the sale of city and suburban lots and insurance and loans.
In December 1924 Jan MacQueen of Kirkland, Illinois would purchase the Windsor from Sherman Letts. The sale also included three farms, one near Belvidere and the other two farms in DeKalb and Ogle counties. The new owner of the Windsor was not unknown to Rockford. He was a millionaire stock feeder at Kirkland and had extensive land holdings in Illinois, Florida and Michigan. Mr. MacQueen's summer home at Long Lake was one of the show places at the northern Wisconsin resort. In June 1957 the owner of the Windsor Apartments asked the city council for a change in zoning from C residential to local business so store fronts and offices could be installed at the ground floor level. The city council would turn the request down citing parking and traffic concerns.
After declining in stature and the lack of maintenance, and altering some apartments into smaller units, under various owners over several decades the building was sold to Andrew Charles Properties in 1996. Clayton Andrews partnered with William Charles investments and with Hagney Architects, a firm that specializes in restoration, to restore the Windsor apartments to it's former glory. During the one year project the old windows were replaced with double pane ones, the floors sanded, tiles polished, an upgraded electrical system with more outlets, all new kitchen cabinets and appliances were installed. In 2003 the property was sold to Barrington, Illinois based Terrace Realty who still owns the building today.
Groneman Flats were constructed in 1901 and located at 624-626 West State Street. Still doing research on this one, but by the 1940’s it was a Nash Car lot.
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