Haight Village Historic District, Rockford, Illinois

Haight Village

Historic District

Haight Village National Register Historic District — Rockford, IL

228 South Madison Street — Gregory House

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The last house that stood at 220 South Madison Street was razed in 1956 to make way for the new Y.W.C.A. building. The Gregory house was a home away from home for World War I troops stationed at Camp Grant. The original Gregory house was destroyed by fire shortly after it was built in the 1850s.

The house was reconstructed and occupied by its first owner, Charles Spafford and his family. Spafford, a lawyer, was son the eldest son of Dr. John Spafford of Adams, New York. Charles Spafford's youngest brother, Amos C. Spafford was Rockford's pioneer banker who built a mansion in 1864 on a 16-acre wooded plot at 501 Prospect St., another treasured piece of Rockford's history. Spafford mortgaged the home at one point, along with Dr. Lucius Clark and Elezor Potter, to provide financial backing to the struggling women's seminary that grew up into Rockford College.

Before the Civil War, Spafford's daughter, Carrie, married Colonel Ephraim Ellsworth. Ellsworth was a young lawyer that had been associated with Abraham Lincoln's law firm in Springfield. On his way to Washington for Lincoln's inauguration, Ellsworth reportedly ripped down a Confederate flag waving over a hotel in Virginia. The hotel keeper fatally shot Ellsworth. Ellsworth's death is believed to be the first Union-soldier casualty in the Civil War. Carrie later married Frederick Brett. Their wedding was one of the first to be held in the Gregory house.

The Gregory house was named after Mrs. Laura Gregory who was the first Y.W.C.A. president. Carrie Spafford spearheaded a campaign in 1901 to raise $16,000 for the construction of the original Y.W.C.A. building at 228 S. Madison St. next to the Gregory House. The original Y.W.C.A. building was dedicated in March of 1906. The Y.W.C.A. acquired the Gregory house in 1941 for use as a residence hall and meeting place.

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