Life & Times

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

Ferkel Couple

518 23rd Avenue There is a surprising story behind this simple postcard.  An elderly couple is posed behind a fence, their small house in the background.  A gate, cobbled of scrap wood, separates neatly shaped pickets on one side from wire on the other.  Like other Real Photo postcards, it may be one-of-a-kind and it … [ Continued

South Wind Motel

4300 11th Street What does it take to be a historic building?  According to regulations governing the National Register of Historic Places, the first requirement is a minimum age of fifty years.  By that standard, the South Wind Motel on this postcard now qualifies. Although many names have been used to convey the idea of … [ 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


SW Corner, Third Avenue at 19th Street Postmarked in 1912, this postcard shows the YMCA – Young Men’s Christian Association – building that was located on the southwest corner of 3rd Avenue and 19th Street.  Its style is Richardsonian Romanesque, as were many of Rock Island’s early schools, and it was designed by the same … [ Continued

West End Settlement

427 Seventh Avenue Usually buildings are deemed historic because of their age and architecture.  But sometimes historic status derives from what happened in a building.  This Real Photo postcard lent us by Mary Chappell shows the West End Settlement, a building that is historic on both counts. Thanks to local philanthropist Suzanne Denkmann, well-to-do daughter … [ Continued

Black Hawk Watch Tower Inns

For decades, Watch Tower Park was a destination for folks all over the Quad Cities.  In 1891 when several local railways merged to form the Tri City Railway, the formerly quiet landscape was soon transformed into a busy amusement park.  Expanding this attraction was a shrewd business decision and the hundreds of passengers who paid … [ Continued


500 20th Street  Sometimes a building becomes so familiar to us that we don’t really notice it anymore.  That may well be the case of Rock Island’s Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) building shown on this circa 1915 postcard from Shannon Hall.  It covered 12,000 square feet at the southwest corner of 20th Street and … [ Continued