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Gallery Two

Sweden House Lodge

Sweden House Lodge, 4605 East State Street. The Eklund family built a 67 room motel next to their famed Sweden House Restaurant in 1964. It was built to resemble a Swedish style lodge and was very modern at the time. It also contained many shops for the convenience of its guest's. It would later be expanded to 108 guest rooms.

The reverse of this 1960’s post card claims the virtues of the motel. A privately owned 108 room ultra-modern Lodge of Swedish architecture featuring beautiful blends of woods and stone by Swedish tradesmen. Rooms all of Swedish tradition, year round pool. Home of the famous Sweden House Restaurant, now the third generation. 50 years in one family serving food.

The entrance and lobby of the Sweden House Lodge, The chandelier was a former oil lamp chandelier from the famous castle in Sweden.

Ilustration showing the different locations of the stores, lodge and restaurant that made up the Sweden House property.

The Sweden House Emporium, 4615 East State Street. "The Old General Store of Yesteryear" with today's wonderful candy, gourmet food and toys and many more exciting items for today’s living.

Sweden House Gift Shop, 4608 Manheim Road. Located directly behind the restaurant on East State Street was the Sweden House Gift Shop. Make sure to visit our Motel Gallery for the Sweden House Lodge.

Sweden House Lodge Swimming Pool

Following the death of Axel Eklund, Jr., in an automobile accident in 1974 the property along with the adjacent Sweden House Restaurant would be sold to the Fridh Corporation along with the nearby Albert Pick Motel which the Eklunds acquired from Pick Hotels in 1972. The restaurant was redeveloped into an office building while the motel after several ownership changes still operates as a motel under a different name.

Holiday Inn Motel

In July 1959 plans were announced to build a franchised Holiday Inn motel on the south outskirts of Rockford just east of the Greater Rockford Airport. The motel would be built on a tract 500 x 410 feet at the southwest corner of 11th Street and Samuelson Road. Land for the motel was purchased from the Anderson Brothers Manufacturing Company; it was still just a cornfield at the time. The motel was to be part of the nationwide Holiday Inn system, which at the time operated 94 similar units. About 100 more Holiday Inns were either planned or under construction. The motel owner was Ray H. Neiswander, president of Raynor Manufacturing Company in Dixon, Illinois. He also owned the Holiday Inn of Springfield and was planning a third motel in Aurora at the time. This would also start the influx of national motel chains into the Rockford area.

An open house for the new Holiday Inn was held on Sunday July 31, 1960 between 2 and 5 p. m. A buffet was served in the restaurant. Miss Illinois, Pat Thompson would lead a bathing beauty show featuring models displaying various editions of bathing suits from the coveralls of the 1890's through the years to today’s modern day bikini.

The motel located at 4419 Eleventh Street. U. S. Highway 51 was a two story concrete reinforced structure with three wings, one of the wings housed the offices, dining room, a large banquet hall and a cocktail lounge. The two other wings housed the dwelling units. Harwell - Allen Construction Company of Memphis, Tennessee built the motel. In April of 1960 Ed Vespa was appointed the manager, or "innkeeper" of the motel, being transferred from the Springfield unit. The motel would open in May 7, 1960 although the Grand Opening would not be until June of that year. The first registered guest at the new motel was Richard K. Ryan of Salem, Wisconsin. Shown above is the motels front desk.

One of the Holiday Inn's main features was the heated three banquet rooms accommodating 20 to 300 persons 60 foot long wedged shaped swimming pool. The pool is 40 feet wide at the shallow end and 20 feet wide at the diving board end with outdoor furniture surrounding the pool. Half of the motels rooms faces the pool while the other half away from it. A service station was operated in conjunction to the motel so motorists could fuel up or have their cars serviced overnight.

The Flight Deck cocktail lounge at the motel was expanded soon after opening as the owner realized it was too small to accommodate all of its patrons and a new room was added named the Orbit Room, shown above, both named after the motel's proximity to the Greater Rockford Airport, now known as Chicago-Rockford International Airport. The flight theme would prevail in both of the rooms with unusual three dimensional pictures of man's ventures into the sky - from Kitty Hawk to space flight.

When the new motel first opened it featured three banquet rooms accommodating 20 to 300 persons, one of which is shown above.

Shown above is the coffee shop of the motel. Other features were advance reservations by teletype, a direct dial telephone and television set in each room; children under 12 were lodged for free, bonded babysitters were available should the parents want to step out on the town, house physicians, baby beds, free dog kennels; valet and laundry service, wall to wall carpeting and all tile tubs with combination tub-showers and in room control of heating and air conditioning.

A view of the dining room at the motel which could seat around 100 people at the time of opening. This would later be expanded to accommodate more people after a Mother's Day when everyone got Mom out of the kitchen and seating was at a premium throughout the day. The owner underestimated the popularity of the restaurant here in Rockford when the motel was first constructed.

The Holiday Inn offered executive suites as in the example shown above and there were eight large executive suites that could be connected together. The suites were meant for the busy team of businessman who has to conduct most of their business while on the road. Everything imaginable was provided for the commercial guests, including two phones in each room and even a telephone in the bathroom.

The bridal suite was decorated in French provincial and was by far the most elegant of the motel's rooms; this suite was rented for less than the usual rate to newlyweds, where many a happy couple shared the evening together.

Shown above is the double room, each room resembled the other, but color schemes and decorations were rotated so that none was exactly like another. Each room included a television set and telephone.

The Holiday Inn also offered studio rooms among the mix. Other services included valet, laundry as well as room service for the guests.

In 1983 the Holiday Inn name was dropped from the motel and it operated as a Quality Inn and later as a Days Inn for years. It eventually became an independent motel operating under the name of Airport Inn. Rockford became one of the biggest cities in the country without a Holiday Inn motel. Several attempts were made to bring the chain back to the city. In December 1979 a Topeka, Kansas development firm which owned or leased 50 Holiday Inn's planned to open a motel on a 10 acre site between the Ramada Inn at 7550 East State and I-90. It was to include 200 guest rooms, 800 seat convention center and a 15,000 square foot "Holidome", an indoor climate controlled recreation area with a sidewalk cafe'. It never materialized. In 1986 a Holiday Inn Hotel was proposed for downtown Rockford and included plenty of support from city leaders but the proposal fell through when a $1.7 million federal grant application was rejected. In 1987 the Debes Corp. announced plans to build a six story Holiday Inn and conference center and health club near Mulford Village Mall. The project was never built.

An early postcard of the Holiday Inn of Rockford - circa 1950's

The Ramada Inn located at 7550 East State Street opened in 1975 and would later operate as an independent hotel between 1985 and 1991 under the Rockford Inn name.  It rejoined Ramada in 1991 to take advantage of its national reservation and marketing systems. On June 1, 1995 it would leave the Ramada family to once again bring the Holiday Inn name back to Rockford with a franchised unit. In 2004 a Holiday Inn Express motel was opened at 7552 Park Place in suburban Loves Park.

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