Public Buildings

Como Hotel

18th Street & 3rd Avenue Like many downtown Rock Island buildings, there’s a long history for the Como Hotel, once at the southwest corner of 18th Street and Third Avenue.  An 1886 Sanborn Fire Insurance map and an 1889 birdseye view map show that there were three businesses – a wholesale liquor business, a harness … [ Continued

New Armory

Much of the material in this story comes from “Rock Island’s Modernistic Architecture,” published by the Preservation Commission.  You can pick up a free copy at the downtown Rock Island library or at City Hall.  You can’t help but be impressed by its size.  It is huge — 232 feet long, 148 feet wide and … [ Continued

Parade & Stable on Third Avenue

Third Avenue West from 17th Street In 1908, Rock Island was home to the annual statewide conclave of the Knights Templar, a Masonic organization that claims roots in the Crusades.  The Knights began arriving on Monday, October 12.  The following morning at 11, an estimated 1200 to 1500 Knights marched through downtown and nearby residential … [ Continued

State Bank Building

Second Avenue & 17th Street Second Avenue and 17th Street north of Market Square has been home to a bank since the earliest days of Rock Island. The story owes much to “The First One Hundred Twenty-Seven Years,” a 1981 book by Lewis B. Wilson, who provides an excellent history of banking at this location.  … [ Continued

Rock Island Public Library

19th Street & 4th Avenue Because this postcard is a “Real Photo,” it is an accurate representation of the Rock Island Public Library, which was built in 1903.   And although it’s nearly 100 years later, very few things have changed in this view of the building on the corner of 19th Street and 4th Avenue, … [ Continued

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

Denkmann Memorial Library – Augustana College

3520 7th Avenue The Augustana College campus holds many historic architectural treasures.   One of its premier buildings is the Denkmann Memorial Library.  In January of 1909, the seven children of the late Frederick Denkmann and his wife, Anna Bloedel Denkmann announced their gift of $100,000 to fund a library at the college as a memorial … [ 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