Check out these unique destinations that reflect the genuine character of our region.
Spirit of the American Doughboy Statue
2 N. Franklin St., Janesville, janesvillecvb.com
In 1920, American sculptor E.M Viquesney designed a pressed copper and sheet bronze sculpture to honor veterans of World War I. The statue depicts a doughboy – a nickname given to infantrymen during the Great War – shouting in defiance as he strides past shattered tree stumps strewn with barbed wire, a grenade in hand.
The statue became so popular it was mass-produced and erected as World War I memorials throughout the country. Today, there are estimated to be nearly 140 Doughboy sculptures remaining in the United States.
Janesville’s statue, presented in 1926, sits at a busy intersection near the Rock River downtown. Standing on a granite pedestal, the statue is affixed with a plaque that reads: “Presented to the city of Janesville by the Lions Club in honor of the men and women who served their country in the world war 1914-1919.”
On both sides of the statue are additional plaques inscribed with the names of 1,200 Janesville-area men and women who signed up to serve their country during the First World War.
Starline Factory Building
300 W. Front St., Harvard, Ill., (815) 943-4805, starlinefactory.com
When Harvard-area farmer Henry L. Ferris patented a hay carrier in 1883, he had no idea it would lead to a premier art studio and event space in the heart of his hometown.
The success of Ferris’ hay carrier resulted in the creation of Starline Inc., a farm implement company that manufactured more than 50 products to simplify farm work. The company remained a manufacturing leader for over a century until 1991, when the building was sold for development plans that never took place.
The building sat in disrepair until local businessman Orrin Kinney purchased it in 2000 and converted it into an event and studio space.
The large windows, exposed brick, cast iron fittings and timber columns – signs of a bygone era – now add a beautiful backdrop to four event/wedding venues, a full-service pub and grill, an art gallery, a market space, business offices and studio space for local artists, vendors, event planners and couples planning their weddings.
In 2010, history came full circle for the Starline Factory when Ferris’ great-great-granddaughter hosted her wedding in the building made possible by her inventive ancestor more than twelve decades ago.
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Coronado Performing Arts Center
314 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 968-5222, coronadopac.org
Opened on Oct. 9, 1927, this 2,400-seat performance space is lovingly referred to by locals as “Rockford’s Wonder Theater,” and it’s considered one of the best-preserved theaters of its kind in the country.
The ornately decorated interior, boasting many gilded surfaces, combines Spanish, Italian and French architecture; Italian sculpture; and Chinese, Egyptian and Persian art. Visitors will find Spanish castles, Italian villas, dragons, starlit skies and a Grande Barton Pipe Organ as they wait for their show to begin.
For its first five decades, the theater hosted both movies and live stage shows. Legendary performers like Tommy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Sammy Davis Jr. graced its stage, and it also played host to President John F. Kennedy when he visited during a campaign tour in 1960.
The theater was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, about two decades before a massive, $18.5 million restoration and renovation.
In 2010, the modernized theater was voted the No. 1 Architectural Wonder of the United States in a poll that was held by AOL/U.S. Travel Association. It has also been named one of Illinois’ 150 Great Places by the Illinois Council of the American Institute of Architects.
Locals, however, already consider it a treasure unlike any other.