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Spafford, Amos Catlin, House - Rockford, Illinois
Posted by: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
N 42° 16.294 W 089° 04.071
16T E 329472 N 4681999
Quick Description: Large mansion located in Rockford, Illinois.
Location: Illinois, United States
Date Posted: 6/14/2008 8:04:35 PM
Waymark Code: WM401A
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member deano1943
Views: 71

Long Description:

"Built in 1863 or 1864, the Amos Catlin Spafford House in Rockford, Illinois is a successful amalgamation of the picturesque revival styles that flourished throughout mid-nineteenth-century America.  Its asymmetrical massing in general -- and three-story tower in particular -- are characteristic of the Italian Villa style, but steeply-pitched gable roofs and a prominently-featured wall dormer suggest the Gothic Revival as well.  Exterior ornament reflects this same marriage of styles.  Paired round-headed windows and the tower's bracketed projecting eaves are quintessentially Italianate.  Gothicized elements include an entrance porch and veranda with beveled posts and trefoil ornament, richly-carved flared bargeboards, decorative pinnacles and elaborate chimneys.  A bracketed canopy with tracery balustrade happily embodies both idioms.  And the mansard-like concave hip roof atop the tower presages yet a third mode, the Franco-American or Second Empire.

The house is constructed of yellow brick, said to have been brought from Milwaukee by bullock cart.  The tower, corner veranda, kitchen wing, and several small additions obscure what is in essence a simple L-shaped plan.  A parlor and dining room to one side of the central hall retain original white marble fireplaces.  The original staircase stands beneath an octagonal skylight.  Interior wood and plaster trim is original and in excellent condition.  Several oriental rugs and other furnishings (including a magnificent gilt mirror frame over the parlor mantle) are also original to the house...

While the Amos Catlin Spafford House is surely one of Rockford's most striking -- and best preserved -- examples of the picturesque movement in American architecture, it is primarily significant for its historical association with six generations of the Spafford family, instrumental in the growth and development of Rockford since 1839...

A native of Jefferson County, New York, Amos Catlin Spafford was one of three brothers who traveled to Rockford by canal boat, Lake steamer, and team in the fall of 1839.  For several years young Spafford worked as a farmer, than as a sawyer, then as a merchant.  His real rise to prominence, however, began in 1854, when he founded a private banking firm with C.C. Briggs and David Penfield.  In 1864 this was reorganized as the Third National Bank of Rockford and Spafford became the first president.  He served in this capacity until his death in 1897.

As head of one of one of the city's major financial institutions, Spafford played a key role in Rockford's rapid growth as a manufacturing center.  He was instrumental, for example, in the creation of the Kenosha and Rockford Railroad.  Son George served as president of the bank (one of two in Rockford to survive the Great Depression) from 1906 to 1943. (The bank was renamed the First National Bank of Rockford in 1958)

Spafford's daughter Jessie was a Rockford personage in her own right.  Educated at Vassar College, the University of Chicago and the Polytechnic Institute in Zurich, Switzerland, Jessie Spafford returned to her native city to become head of the mathematics and physics department at Rockford College.  She later served as vice-president of the Third National until her death in 1952 at the age of 90.

Father and daughter were among the most public spirited of Rockford's citizens.  Amos Spafford was a founder of the First Congregational Church and held a variety of township and municipal offices.  Jennie Spafford was the first woman president of the Rockford School Board.  Together, they played an important role in founding the Boy's Club, the Rockford Woman's Club, the Community Chest, and Montague House, the city's first settlement house.  Small wonder, then, that local historian Charles Church should describe the Spafford family in 1916 as "one of the best and most highly respected in the county." ~ National Register Nomination Form

The house and expansive grounds are surrounded by a iron fence.
Street address:
501 N. Prospect St.
Rockford, Illinois


County / Borough / Parish: Winnebago County

Year listed: 1980

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Person, Architecture/Engineering

Periods of significance: 1850-1874, 1875-1899

Historic function: Domestic

Current function: Domestic

Privately owned?: yes

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]

Season start / Season finish: Not listed

Hours of operation: Not listed

Secondary Website 2: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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