The Original Rockford Nostalgic Website


Rockford had the inventors of the knitting machines. The Ziock building came along in 1915 for the Ziock Knitting Co. Originally, it was nine stories tall, but the taller west side was added in 1919. William Ziock owned The Saint. Charles Woolen Mills of Saint. Charles, Missouri. He was the supplier of yarn for the Rockford Mitten Company. In 1885 he purchased the Rockford Mitten Co. and it was renamed Rockford Mitten and Hosiery Company. In 1918 it was changed to Rockford Textile Mills, Incorporated. The company was located in the Rockford knitting district along South Main Street. The William Ziock building was constructed in two phases between 1918 and 1924. The Ziock Building was long recognized as Rockford’s tallest skyscraper (it was 13 stories) and was often referred to as the "tower building". Later it became known as the Amerock Building for Amerock Hardware, another Rockford original. The building is located at 416 South Main Street.

William, whose occupation was merchant, eventually settled in Saint Louis, Missouri where he married Elizabeth Bollinger in 1855. William is listed in the Saint Louis City Directory in 1857 as a salesman. Later William and his brother, August, became merchants & business partners in William Ziock & Company manufacturing hosiery & gloves and fancy goods. At some point in the latter 1800’s William & August became estranged & William moved the business and his family to Rockford, Illinois. William died of fibro sarcoma of the bladder in Saint Louis in 1905 and is buried in Rockford.

The Rockford Mitten Company, founded by Thour Munthe, John Nelson, and William Talcott, began operations in 1879 and incorporated on November 29, 1881 for the purpose of manufacturing mittens and gloves. During the early years of its existence the company principally manufactured leather gloves either lined with material knitted on the same machine used for knitting stockings or unlined. The Saint Charles Woolen Mills with William Ziock as president, supplied most of the yarn used at that time. Because of his long and successful career in the knitting business, the company invited Mr. Ziock to consolidate the Saint Charles Woolen Mills with the Rockford Mitten Company. Mr. Ziock agreed to the proposed merger, took the assets of his store into the new organization, and in 1885 consolidation took place; the new company became the Rockford Mitten and Hosiery Company. Almost immediately, leather glove manufacturing discontinued and the manufacture of hosiery became the primary business. The company introduced yarn, stockings, and blankets woolen piece goods to its line as business expanded.  On October 28, 1918, the company changed its name to the Rockford Textile Mills, Incorporated.

William Ziock, Sr., for whom the building was originally named, and William Ziock, Jr., the son who initiated construction of the building, clearly were enthusiastic entrepreneurs and successful businessmen. They were early prominent figures in the knitting, hosiery and textile industry.  Unlike some of their peers, they provided for the welfare, health and safety of their workers. Their concern translated to improved working conditions in a state-of-the-art building, the tallest of its day in Rockford. Newspaper accounts describe upper floors that include a recreation hall complete with billiard tables and a library, kitchen and a dining room, all with panoramic views. The Ziocks generously invited a variety of organizations to use these facilities for banquets, benefits and special events. And they served as benefactors to the greater community. This historic building was important to Rockford's knitting industry as well as the hardware industry. On May 13, 2011 this building was added to the National Registry of Historic Places.

Text describing the Ziock Building shortly after completion: The Tower Building is thirteen stories high, solid concrete construction with steel sash fitted with ribbed glass. The total area on each floor below the twelfth floor is a little over 14,000 square feet. This is divided in an area of about 6,400 square feet and 7,600 square feet. The twelfth and thirteenth floors have an area of 7,600 feet each and have the same type of construction as the lower floors.  The head room clearance between the floor and ceiling is 11 feet 3 inches. The building is absolutely fireproof, is sprinkler equipped, and has a two source supply of water which entitles it to the very lowest of insurance rate, which is a very important factor in the cost of occupancy, when compared to a more hazardous location. The eight floors are constructed to carry a floor load of 200 pounds per square foot. All other floors are constructed to carry floor load of 125 pounds per square foot. These floor specifications are for live loads. The columns are approximately on 23 foot centers and the dimensions of the building are 78 X 156 feet with an "L" extension 94 feet X 26 feet. This gives it lineal frontage on South Main Street of 104 feet and a few inches. The building is centrally located, having frontage on two streets and an alley on the entire 156 foot frontage on the north, insuring plenty of daylight and air. It is equipped with two freight elevators and one passenger elevator. The small freight elevator has a capacity of 4,000 pounds running at about 100 feet a minute, serving every floor except the Wyman Street level. The large elevator with a capacity of 16,000 pounds, will enable a tenant to drive their truck onto the elevator and unload it at the floor height desired, the elevator being stopped so that the platform of the truck is at a level floor height with the floor from which the load is to be delivered or received. Each floor is equipped with male / female toilets and lavatory facilities.

The location of the building is very convenient to freight depots, express depots and across the street from the central Post Office. It would lend itself to any normal hazard in the way of occupancy; machine business, textile, or any other line could be easily accommodated with the present facilities. The building is heated from a private heating plant and has both hard and soft, hot and cold water and AC and DC current.

The King Company

The King Company occupied several floors of the large Ziock Building on Wyman Street and Textile Court. Another Ziock venture the company offered a new and very popular idea of merchandising, "The King Plan” that appealed to their customers because it enabled them to make their dollars go further in the purchase of the necessities and luxuries which they enjoyed inside and outside their homes. The King Company sold a complete and high quality line of family remedies, extracts, spices, stock and poultry preparations, toilet soaps, furniture, stoves, clocks, and many more items, from horse and wagons which the King Men drove throughout the country. The premium proposition, met with such universal approval enabled their customers to secure merchandise of every kind ranging from a teaspoon to all kinds of house furnishings, groceries, farm implements, and merchandise of practically every kind. This produced a wonderfully rapid growth for the company and its salesman alike who were located in practically every community throughout the United States. Their plant where the products were made, bottled, put in packages and packed was equipped with modern and up to date machinery making it possible to produce goods of the highest and most uniform quality in a sanitary and economical way.

A letter on the Winnebago National Bank stationery proclaiming the merit of the King Plan and the men who were behind it. The letter was signed by Chandler Starr. Starr's wife would be responsible for establishing the Mendelssohn Club.

The King Company Catalog - The King Company was founded and organized by William Seyler in 1913 with William Ziock as president, R. K. Welsh, vice president, Fred G. Shoudy, George D. Roper, C. J. Lundberg, Dr. J. P. Gorden and W. A. Stapleton as officers and directors. This is just a small sampling of its content as the age and tender condition of the catalog prevent me from handling it much or irreversible damage might occur. This is possibly one of the only remaining King Company Catalog's in existence.

The Lobby Lunch

The Lobby Lunch, 206 Textile Court in the William Ziock Building 416 South Main Street. One of the many different businesses that was located in the Ziock Building at one time.

Ziock Flats

In 1903 William Ziock showed his concern for his employees with a housing development he created on Rockford’s near West side. Ziock Flats consisted of 14 new duplexes and a 4-story apartment building located between Winnebago, Peach, Court and Mulberry. The homes were built to provide clean affordable housing for his factory workers, and stood in marked contrast to the subpar, company-owned tenement housing that was all too common in mill towns at that time boasting two parlors, a kitchen, a formal dining room and four bedrooms. Unfortunately, Mr. Ziock died in 1905, just before the project was completed. After being a downtown fixture for 55 years it was demolished in 1958 for urban renewal.

Ziock Flats, Looking South on North Winnebago Street from Peach Street

Ziock Flats, Looking North on Court Street from Mulberry Street

Ziock Flats, Looking South on Court Street from Peach Street

Ziock Flats, Looking North from Mulberry Street on North Winnebago Street

The Rockford Automobile Show

On February 23, 1921 the Rockford Automobile Trade Association opened an auto show that took up three complete floors of the Ziock Building skyscraper. Forty local automobile and accessory agencies presented 200 different cars and 30 separate makes as well as hundreds of accessories were shown. The purpose of the show was to make Rockford the biggest automobile center in Northern Illinois outside of Chicago. On the ground floor, which have 16,000 square feet of exhibit space were the main exhibits of the various agencies. Tastily arranged cozy corners, refreshment stands, desks and floral decorations lend dignity to the main show floor. The twelfth floor was devoted to rebuilt automobiles while on the thirteenth floor were shown the "Deluxe" or closed cars. The refreshment stands placed throughout the various floors offered lunches, soft drinks, ice cream, candy and cigars. One of the biggest attractions turned out to be the view of the city afforded from the vantage point on the 13th floor as many person's got their first birds-eye view of the city as it was spread out before them below. The show ran for four days. This was not the last encounter the building would have with the automobile.

Tower Garage

In August 1928 a merger between the William Ziock Building Corporation and the Sutton Top Shop, Inc., valued at $550,000 occurred resulting in the Sutton Corporation being formed. Officers of the new corporation were John C. Sutton, president and general manager; William Ziock, vice president; Thomas A. Nolan, secretary, and William Sutton, treasurer of the corporation. Sutton will take over the Tower Garage in the 13 story Ziock Building on South Main Street and install its automobile rebuilding service there. Four floors of the Ziock Building were already dedicated to garage and storage space and the Sutton Corp. added washing racks, polishing, greasing and lube bays, a tire and tube shop along with automobile servicing. They planned on turning the entire remaining structure into parking and storage with space for 1,000 cars with 100 cars per floor. They also had a service that offered taking customers to and from train stations or theaters from the Ziock Building, in the customer’s cars and then storing the automobile until it was time to pick the patrons up from their location. The Sutton Top Shop, Inc. which constructed a new building at South Winnebago and Chestnut Streets in 1926 moved some of its manufacturing capacity to the Ziock Building while leasing out the rest of the unused space at the Winnebago Street building to others. The plan never fully materialized and after seven years in operation the plan was abandoned as the building had always been an incubator for small businesses, one which also took occupancy in the Ziock Building in 1928. The company, Aldeen Manufacturing Company, later changed its name to American Cabinet and Hardware in 1930, would rapidly expand and take over the entire building and purchase the structure in 1945.

Views From The Ziock/Amerock Buildings

Birds-Eye View Showing Morgan Street Bridge from the Ziock Building.  In this early hand drawn penny postcard with the Burson Knitting Company building can be seen on the lower right, the Fordham Power Plant is on the left on the east bank of the river. Just beyond the railroad bridge in the foreground is the Fordham Dam; notice the islands in the river just south of the dam where the water is shallower. The wooden covered railroad bridge in the center of the card was later replaced with a truss bridge. Center right shows other factories that had located in the water power district. The Morgan Street Bridge is in the background. Rockford Female Seminary, later called Rockford College was located on the left of the Morgan Street Bridge on the northeast corner. The City of Rockford demolished the Morgan Street Bridge and the bridge was completely rebuilt in 2014. On April 10, 2017, the Rockford City Council approved plans for Gorman & Company LLC to turn the vacant Ziock building into a 160 room four star hotel, the Hilton Embassy Suites and Conference Center.

A newer real picture postcard birds-eye view looking south towards the Morgan Street Bridge from the Amerock Building.

A view north from the Amerock Building in the 1950's. Lorden Storage is in the foreground which today houses rest rooms and viewing decks at Davis Park Festival Grounds. Just beyond that where the two story building and parking lot is pictured stands the E.J. "Zeke" Giorgi State of Illinois Office Building today. On the left is Hotel Nelson demolished in 1959-60

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