Business & Commercial

Fort Armstrong Theatre (Circa 21)

Third Avenue & 19th Street Its given name was the “Fort Armstrong Theatre” and it was called the “Castle That Shadows Built.”  The shadows, of course, referred to the silent movies that were shown there.  Later it was named simply “The Fort.”  Now it is “Circa 21,” named for 1921, the year the theatre first … [ Continued

First Brick Building in Rock Island

209 15th Street When this postcard, captioned “First Brick Building Erected in Rock Island About the Year 1840,” was published in the early 1900s, the historic store building was still a point of pride.  Greg Binder shared this postcard, but the picture has been reproduced many times over the years, even though the building is … [ Continued

Second Avenue West from 18th Street

Second Avenue is the undisputed heart of downtown Rock Island, both historically and today. It has been the destination of shoppers, tipplers, and travelers, of salesmen, milliners, attorneys and blacksmiths. Historically, the commercial area extended from 15th to 20th Streets. West of 15th Street the avenue was residential, while east of 20th Street, the Chicago, … [ Continued

Mill Store

300-02 Fourth Avenue  The Mill Store, featured on this postcard, notes that it contains drygoods, shoe, and grocery departments.   In city directories, the Mill Store also indicated that it sold hardware here, at its outlet on the southeast of Third Street and Fourth Avenue.   All these items and many more were offered in a space … [ Continued

Family Theatre (Peter Fries Building)

1903-05 Second Avenue  In 1902, a fine new building went up just across the street from downtown’s beautiful Spencer Square. Located at 1903-05 Second Avenue, it was named for its owner and marked “Peter Fries”in relief copper letters.   Although the name is blacked out on the postcard, it was located in the rectangle between the … [ Continued

Elks Club Building (Blue Cat Brew Pub)

111 – 115 18th Street  Rock Island Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Lodge No. 980 was organized on June 26, 1905, with B. F. Knox serving as exalted ruler.  Initially, the lodge met at the Illinois Theatre on the southeast corner of 16th Street and Second Avenue.  It only took a short time for … [ Continued

Illinois Theatre

1600 Second Avenue Rock Island never lacked culture.  That was demonstrated in 1901 when a plan to build a new theatre that had been promoted by the Rock Island Club and the Argus finally came to fruition with the hiring of George H. Johnston of St. Louis.    But before anything could be built, money had … [ Continued

First National Bank

Second Avenue & 17th Street  There was a time, not so long ago, when nearly every town, large and small, had its own bank. It was a bank where decisions and loans were made locally, where the officers and employees were friends and neighbors.  As often as not, that bank was called the First National … [ Continued