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Graham-Ginestra House - Rockford, Illinois
Posted by: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
N 42° 15.685 W 089° 06.038
16T E 326740 N 4680938
Quick Description: Historic stone house in south Rockford, Illinois.
Location: Illinois, United States
Date Posted: 6/15/2008 1:19:16 PM
Waymark Code: WM4059
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member JimmyEv
Views: 34

Long Description:

"The Graham-Ginestra House was constructed in 1857.  The original owner, Freeman Graham, Sr., was a prominent local businessman who built the first sour mash distillery in the State of Illinois, and achieved a national reputation for his whiskies.  Graham was also part owner of the Rockford Cotton Mills, and his home at 1115 S. Main Street was located approximately midway between the Mills (202 S. Main) and the Graham Distillery (1602-08 S. Main).

The Grahams were one of the most influential Rockford families to settle on the city's southwest side.  Freeman Graham originally came to Rockford to manage Emerson, Talcott, & Company, a manufacturer of farm implements located in the city's "Water Power" District a few blocks from the (later) Graham residence.  He had been apprenticed for seven years in the east as a maker of cotton and woolen machines, and had served as both a justice of the peace and a member of the Connecticut Legislature before migrating to the Midwest. In Rockford he was elected as the Fifth Ward Alerman.

On the death of Freeman Graham in 1896, the family business was divided among three sons, and the house itself bequeathed to a daughter, Julia, and her husband, Henry S. Warner, secretary-treasurer of the Graham Match Company.  The Warners lived in the house until 1927, when they sold it to a Sicilian immigrant named Leo Ginestra.

South Rockford in the 1920's was the center of a rapidly-expanding Italian immigrant community (eventually to become the city's second largest ethnic group),  and the Ginestra home on S. Main Street was situated along its main commercial thoroughfare, directly across the street from the Rialto and Capitol Theatres.

Leo Ginestra lived in the house until his death in May 1978.  He was a real estate assessor, machinist, and maintenance mechanic, who owned a mobile home park on S. Main Street beyond the city limits.  He enjoyed a reputation in the Italian community as both an amateur musician and wine-maker,  Though the complexion of South Rockford changed in later years as many of the original immigrant families moved to other parts of the city, and S. Main Street itself suffered increasingly from commercial blight, the Ginestras continued to maintain the house and grounds.  Today the house is easily the most habitable structure on S. Main Street with the city limits." - National Register Nomination Form

Street address:
1115 S. Main St.
Rockford, Illinois

County / Borough / Parish: Winnebago County

Year listed: 1979

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

Periods of significance: 1850-1874

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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