After 14 years of planning, researching, designing, and constructing, Many Faces, One Community was finally completed in July. This long-term exhibit presents the hows and whys of immigration to Rockford through the representation of 16 cultural groups. The exhibit would not be possible without the first and second generation immigrants who shared their stories with us.
As you enter the train depot, you hear the train whistle and the conductor yell “Rockford Station! End of the line!” and you know you have finally reached your destination after weeks of a long journey far from home. As you heave your trunk from the baggage cart, you realize that Rockford – America – is your new home. How will you fit in here? Do you have a place to live, or a job to work at? Where will your children go to school? Will you find others like yourself, who know your customs and traditions?
How will you furnish your home? If you are Swedish, Seventh Street is the place to go! You can find furniture, silverware, lamps, vases, shoes and clothing, and even have your photograph taken here. Don’t forget to have your shoes shined by little Jimmy Sotos, the “Mayor of Seventh Street.”
South Main Street carries goods and services for almost all ethnic groups who have found their way to Rockford. You can do your grocery shopping, have a shave and a haircut, and enjoy authentic Mexican food.
Come apply for a job at the furniture factory. Show off your knowledge of tools as well as your skill at assembling panel doors.
When you come home from work, what are your rooms like? Perhaps your parlor reminds you of home in the old country, much like Swedish immigrant Alma Peterson’s. Is your kitchen traditional, like Italian immigrant Carmela Gaziano’s? Or maybe you live at Mary Wood’s boarding house with men and women from different countries, where you share your stories and learn about each other’s way of life.
Find your place in Rockford’s history as you tour the interactive exhibit Many Faces, One Community. See 450 artifacts from the collection, many that have never before been on display. For more information on hours and admission, please visit our website: http://www.midwayvillage.com/wordpress/planning-a-visit/admission/