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Lake-Peterson House - Rockford, Illinois
Posted by: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
N 42° 15.994 W 089° 04.504
16T E 328863 N 4681458
Quick Description: Historic Victorian Gothic styled house in Rockford, Illinois.
Location: Illinois, United States
Date Posted: 6/15/2008 6:25:38 AM
Waymark Code: WM4033
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Smiling Little Perch
Views: 167

Long Description:

"The Lake-Peterson House possesses statewide significance as one of Illinois' finest examples of domestic architecture in the "Victorian Gothic" style.  The house displays virtually all the elements cited by architectural historian John Blumenson as distinguishing the "Victorian Gothic" style from earlier and later variations of the Gothic: the juxtaposition of materials of different colors and textures, incised carvings in a foliated pattern, the combined used of both straight-headed and pointed arch windows and doors, and the "massive and strong" appearance of gable and eave trim.  The name of the architect -- if any -- is unknown.  Plans for the house many have been obtained by John Lake (first own and probable builder) in England, as construction began in 1873 shortly after his return from a visit there.  The survival of a contemporary outbuilding is unusual.  The house is also locally significant for its historical associations with two prominent citizens of early Rockford, John Lake and Pehr August Peterson.

English-born John Lake came to Rockford in 1837, just three years after the first settlement was made on either side of the Rock River there.  Young Lake apprenticed himself to a joiner, and soon began work as a carpenter and contractor.  In 1852--the very year that the opening of the Galena and Chicago Railroad sparked Rockford's rapid growth--he entered the first of several successive partnerships in the lumber trade.  By the 1870's John Lake was one of the city's wealthiest and most prominent citizens, serving as a ward supervisor and alderman and as Chairman of the Board of Education.  Lake lived in the house until his death in 1907.

In 1918 the handsome dwelling was purchased by Pehr August Peterson, dean of Rockford furniture manufacturers.  Peterson arrived in Rockford in 1852 with the first wave of Swedish immigrants.  He worked first as a farm hand, later put himself through a local business college.  In 1876 he was chosen secretary of the newly-formed Union Furniture Company.  Peterson's swift rise in the business world was paralleled by the spectacular growth of the furniture industry in Rockford.  By 1892, for example, seven out of twenty  furniture companies there were directed by P.A. Peterson; that year, the city was surpassed only by Chicago and Grand Rapids in the manufacturing of furniture.  At the time of his death in 1927, Peterson was president of more than a dozen industrial firms.

It is not surprising that local historian Charles Church named him "the great organizing genius of the furniture industry in Rockford," and, "one of the leading representatives of manufacturing interests in this part of the country."

Peterson was also a philanthropist.  The house itself , for example, was donated to the Swedish American Hospital in 1919 (he and his wife retained life tenure).  Following Mrs. Peterson's death in 1964, the house was used as a residence for the hospital's School of Medical Technology.  The Jenny Lind Society, a volunteer organization of the Swedish American Hospital, undertook the task of preserving the house in 1973." ~ National Register Nomination Form

Public/Private: Private

Tours Available?: Unknown

Year Built: 1873

Web Address: [Web Link]

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