Rockford Riverfront/Ames-Florida-Stork House, Rockford, Minnesota

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Rockford Riverfront

Old Grist Mill at Flood Time
View of Crow River Now
Location of Site: Rockford, Minnesota Riverfront
City/locality-
State/province
Rockford, Minnesota
County-
State/province:
Wright/Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year Established: 1855
Year Ended: 1920s
Founded by: Goerge Ames, Joel Florida and Guilford George
Historic Function: Industrial site
Historic Function: Housing, River
Other Historic Function: Housing, River
Current Function: Stream/river/creek

Rockford Wright/Hennepin County

Rockford Riverfront/Ames-Florida-Stork House, Rockford, Minnesota
(45.087399420338° N, 93.734064102173° WLatitude: 45°5′14.638″N
Longitude: 93°44′2.631″W
)
National Register of Historic Places Information
Reference Number: 79003714
Certification date: October 16, 1979
Level of significance: Local

The riverfront in Rockford, Minnesota has played a vital role in the city since before the founding of the city. Guilford D. George, George F. Ames and Joel Florida came to the area in search of river location for their milling operation and settled on the area that is now Rockford. They chose that area since the river banks were high and there were many rapids in the area that were conducive to powering their milling operation. The partnership was vital to the formation of Rockford since they financed much of the building of the town including the first bridge across the river. At the height of the milling in Rockford there were many different types of mills including a saw mill, woolen mill, grist mill and flour mill. The ownership of the mills stayed in the family of the partnership even after their deaths until the milling industry in Rockford declined shortly after the turn of the century.

To increase the production of the mills and harness the water power a dam was constructed which remnants still can be seen. This dam was vital to the production but was never constructed very well since each time it was constructed by Ames or Florida. It was also breeched by dynamite from angry residents downriver whose property was continually flooded. [1]

The mills in Rockford were very prosperous and the goods from the mills were highly sought after in Minneapolis, especially the wool from the woolen mill. This prosperity of the partners was manifested in the building of George Ames’ House, now called the Ames-Florida-Stork House. The house was built on the banks of the Crow River overlooking all of the mills. Even though none of the mill buildings are standing today the Ames-Florida-Stork House stands as a testament to the achievement of the partnership and a reminder to the residents of Rockford of their heritage. In the almost 150 years since the house was built it has only had four owners and has been preserved so well that much of the original furniture from the Ames and Florida families still exists in the house as well as original windows and wallpaper. In the basement workshop many tools that were used for the milling operation are still hanging on the walls and the passageway to the river can be seen.

Contents


Site History

Pre-1855 – Settled by Winnebago Native Americans because of the abundance of trees and fishing.

October 4, 1855 – Guilford D. George, George F. Ames and Joel Florida came to the area in search of river location for their milling operation.

August 1, 1856 – First mill opened for operation. The steam powered saw mill was in operation for a few months before it burned and then was rebuilt.

February 1857 – First bridge built in Rockford over the Crow River to make transportation of goods easier.

July 1857 – First dam was constructed on the Crow River.

July 7, 1857 – Plat of site filled and village was named Rockford.

1858 – Flour mill built, which claims to be the oldest flour mill in the country

1860 – Ames-Florida-Stork House constructed. George and Florida sell all their shares in the mills to Ames.

1874 – Woolen mill buys the rake factory building and begins carding wool; 4,000 pounds in the first year.

October 21, 1881 – Rockford was incorporated.

October 28, 1878 – Ames dies two days after selling mills to nephew George Florida.

April 1887 – Iron Bridge constructed which stood for almost 100 years.

1900s – Mills start to decline

1920s – Only woolen mill building still stands. All mills are out of operation.



Memories and stories

Photo Gallery

Related Links

“History of Rockford”. http://cityofrockford.org/history.htm

“Rockford Area Historical Society”. http://www.rockfordmnhistory.org/

Notes

Crow River News. August 19, 1981. Vol. 19 No. 11.

“Ames-Florida-Stork House”. <http://www.cityofrockford.org/storkhouse/index.htm>

“History of Rockford”. < http://cityofrockford.org/history.htm>

“Rockford Area Historical Society”. <http://www.rockfordmnhistory.org/>

Sammis, Edward R. “Haunted Relic of Pioneer Woolen Plant Stands in Ruins at Rockford”. Minneapolis Sunday Tribune. April 25, 1926.

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