Rockford History: 1955-1957



1955 ------ Record 4,552 babies born in the city. Building permits also set records - $29,582,000 in the county and $19,217,410 in the city. Rockford Board of Education buys 110 acres of farmland between School and Auburn Streets for $55,000. Wilson Junior High School and Auburn High School now occupy the site. Morristown incorporated as a village.

March 19, 1955 ------ Nolden Gentry's tip-in just before the gun gives Rockford West High School the state basketball title in a 61-59 thriller over another Big Eight entry, Elgin. West had roared back from a 10-point deficit to win.

July, 1955 ------ Construction begins on $5 million American Chicle Co. plant. Work is completed in 1956.

1956 -------- Plans for Alternate U.S. 20 route south of Harrison Avenue approved by city and county officials. Commission form of government again turned down. National Lock Co. begins work on $5 million plant covering 14 acres under roof on 167-acre Kishwaukee St. tract.

April 10, 1956 ------ Robert R. Canfield defeats Charles W. Baker for GOP state senator nomination. John B. Anderson wins Republican nomination for State's attorney. Voters approve Rockford Park District public recreation tax.

Sept. 22, 1956 ----- Governor William G. Stratton launches construction of 193-mile, $415 million toll road system east of Rockford, at Bell and Lyford Roads.

Sept. 29, 1956 ----- Elco Tool and Screw Corporation begins $2.5 million plant on Samuelson Road. Completion is in 1957.

Oct. 26, 1956 ----- Vice-President Richard M. Nixon, campaigning with President Dwight D. Eisenhower for re-election, lands at Greater Rockford Airport and gives talk at National Guard Armory.

Nov. 20, 1956 ------ Rt. Rev. Loras Thomas Lane becomes bishop of the Rockford Catholic Diocese.

Dec. 5, 1956 ------ Jos. Behr & Sons salvage plant at 100 Seminary St. is swept by $750,000 fire. ---- Also in December, 1956 ---

----Voters approve $1,647,000 school building bonds for addition to Washington Junior High School, the new Maud E. Johnson school, and rehabilitation of older school buildings.

----New Chamber of Commerce headquarters open at 815 E. State St.

----Rockford College trustees vote to remove the college to a new campus for 1,200 students. Development of campus at E. State St. and Alpine Roads estimated at $8.9 million.

----Merger of CIO and AF of L into Rockford United Labor, following national pattern.

1957 ------ Continued industrial expansion and relocation; Amerock Corporation moves into new $4 million plant at 400 Auburn St. ......... YMCA moves into new building... So does Emmanuel Episcopal Church ... Sundstrand Corp. starts work on $2 million addition to its Newburg Road plant..... National Lock Company moves into new Kishwaukee St. plant on July 13, 1957.

Feb. 27, 1957 ------ Workmen dismantle Palace Theater, which opened in 1915 and was center for vaudeville in Rockford.

April 2, 1957 ------ Benjamin T. Schleicher is elected mayor of Rockford. Elected city clerk is Robert J. Lindley and city treasurer Emil P. Olson.

April 23, 1957 ------- Alan C. Mattison is named president of the Rockford Board of Education.

May 5, 1957 ------ Open house and dedication of Jefferson Junior High School, occupied since Sept., 1956.

June, 1957 ------ Voters approve $3.88 million bond issue of Wilson Junior High School and Conklin and Lathrop grade schools.

July 29, 1957 ----- James E. Blue retires as West High School principal; he began career as principal in 1928 at the old Rockford High School.

November, 1957 ----- Immediate start is ordered on drawing up plans for new $10 million Rockford College campus on 304-acre E. State St. site, east of Alpine Rd.

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