Global True Lithuania Encyclopedia of Lithuanian heritage worldwide

Rockford, Illinois

Rockford, Illinois's third largest city, has the Rockford Lithuanian club (716 Indiana Ave). It is located in the southern part of the city that was once populated by Lithuanians.

Rockford Lithuanian club. Usually, the Lithuanian flag also waves

Rockford Lithuanian club. Usually, the Lithuanian flag also waves

Today, however, the club became multi-ethnic. Nevertheless, it proudly displays its history in the form of Lithuanian coats of arms, flags and flag colors, images of Lithuania and the club history.

The building is two-floored with the main hall on the second floor while the bar located at the ground floor level. The bar is now the most lively part of the club, open four days a week.

The underground bar of Rockford Lithuanian Club

The underground bar of Rockford Lithuanian Club. There are lit patterns in the colors of the Lithuanian flag

The club now has ~250 members while it had ~500 in its heyday. Most members are of European but not Lithuanian heritage. Most of them are over 50 years old as such clubs do not appeal to the youth. The district is now Black-majority.

Data about Lithuania is posted on the bulletin boards of the club so its members would learn more about Lithuania. Among that data, we have discovered print-outs from the True Lithuania website.

Data about Lithuania is posted on the bulletin boards of the club so its members would learn more about Lithuania. Among that data, we have discovered print-outs from the True Lithuania website.

Lithuanian Club also owns a Lithuanian Park in Southern Rockford with its Lithuanian sign. Both the club halls and the park are rented for activities. The park also has bees and Joninės used to be celebrated there well after the club became non-Lithuanian-majority as even the current non-Lithuanian members try hard to keep the club's Lithuanian history alive and learn about Lithuania.

Rockford Lithuanian park (this sign is more than one mile after driving past the gate)

Rockford Lithuanian park (this sign is more than one mile after driving past the gate)

The importance of Lithuanians in Rockford is also marked by the fact that Rockford ethnic heritage museum (1129 S. Main Street) has dedicated one of its six galleries to Lithuanians (the other five are dedicated to far larger US minorities: Blacks, Irish, Italians, Hispanics, and Poles). The museum is volunteer-run and opens just a day per week for excursions. Each hall has its president and includes various artworks from the country in question.

Rockford Ethnic heritage museum

Rockford Ethnic heritage museum

Rockford Ethnic heritage museum Lithuanian room

Rockford Ethnic heritage museum Lithuanian room

Recently, the museum has acquired an impressive mansion of a local 19th-century elite nearby: it is not Lithuanian but it shows the glamour the employers of Lithuanians lived back then. The massive factory where many Lithuanians worked now stands abandoned next to the Ethnic heritage museum.

An abandoned factory near the Rockford ethnic heritage museum

An abandoned factory near the Rockford ethnic heritage museum

Recently, the Lithuanian room has been kept by Ann Keraminas who also created many drinking straw ornaments for the museum, a peculiar Lithuanian-American tradition that Lithuanian-Americans created after being unable to find real straws in urban America.

Drinking straw ornaments by Anna Keraminas at the Rockford ethnic heritage museum

Drinking straw ornaments by Anna Keraminas at the Rockford ethnic heritage museum

Rockford Ss. Peter and Paul Lithuanian church (617 Lincoln Avenue), constructed in 1911 (cornerstone lists 1929), has been transferred to Blacks in 1985 and to Hispanics in 1992. Currently, most of the masses there are celebrated in Spanish. The church has no external Lithuanian details.

Ss. Peter and Paul Lithuanian church of Rockford

Ss. Peter and Paul Lithuanian church of Rockford

At one time, the Rockford Lithuanian community was so important that the key national revival figures visited here on the eve of the 1918 independence.

Click to learn more about Lithuania: Illinois Leave a comment
Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)

No comments yet.


Leave a comment

No trackbacks yet.