Haight Village Historic District, Rockford, Illinois

Haight Village

Historic District

Haight Village National Register Historic District — Rockford, IL

322 South First Street — Robinson House

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Eastlake

Abby and Henry Robinson built the house at 322 S. First Street in 1882. It was built in the "Stick" or "Eastlake" style. Eastlake or Stick-style architectural features include: trusses on the gables, decorative shingles, square posts with chamfers, and decorative banding made with flat boards or "sticks". The home's etched and stained glass windows have a Japanese influence, an aesthetic advocated by 19th century tastemaker Charles Eastlake.

Shortly after the home was built it was purchased by Attorney Frederick Haines, who was Robinson's partner in a real estate firm. At this time, an addition was made to enlarge the upstairs. A back staircase was added which led to a maid's room and bay windows were added on the north side of the house.

Anthony Haines was born in the home in 1887. His name and initials are carved in several places in the basement. Anthony graduated from Yale and was credited with throwing the first forward pass in football game history. He went on to be an influential businessman and served on many boards and committees in the Rockford area.

In 1902, Charles J. Radcliff, a retired farmer and father of Bauer Radcliff and Mrs. W. A. McPhail, purchased the home. The Radcliffs owned the home until 1945 when the Radcliff daughters, Nina and Bessie passed away. The Radcliffs modified the home by adding a large porch, enlarging the first floor rooms by removing walls, and covering the original flooring with hardwood. Double-hung windows facing the street and to the north were replaced with large "picture" windows.

Theodosia Keeler and Marjorie Brittain, both West High School teachers, purchased the home in 1951. When they moved in, the kitchen had been recently remodeled. The remodeling divided the space of the original kitchen to include a first floor bathroom. They filled the home with their beautiful collection of antique furniture.

When the Ludekes purchased the home in 1991, they had a goal of restoring the home to its 1880s appearance. An effort was made to match colors from the 1880s and restore original features. Original doors, windows, interior shutters, and hardware have been restored and re-installed. In 2002, the kitchen was returned to its larger, original dimensions. The only remaining original feature in the kitchen is the maple flooring. Eastlake designs were incorporated into the kitchen cabinets.

Following the destruction of the porch in the storm of 2003, the Ludeke's decided to restore the front porch to how it may have looked in the 19th century. Since there are no known existing photos of the home from the 1880s, porch details and dimensions were borrowed from existing details on the house.


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