BROADWAY HISTORIC DISTRICT
National Register of Historic Places
Rock Island, Illinois
Broadway Historic Area Association
During the summer of 1998, a group of historic preservationists organized to revitalize the Broadway neighborhood. Their efforts gave birth to the Broadway Historic Area Association, an educational not-for-profit that was created to promote historic preservation in the Broadway neighborhood.
During its first year, the association created a community newsletter (continued to the present-day), published a vision for the neighborhood, and installed Broadway street signs. Broadway also petitioned the City Council to change the zoning from multi-family to R-3 one and two family residential. Over the following decade, this strategy encouraged residential investment by reducing the number of rental properties in the neighborhood.
Broadway Neighborhood Conservation Plan
As revitalization ramped up, residents wanted to create a formal neighborhood plan for Broadway. In April 1991 collaboration between the Rock Island Preservation Commission, which wanted to highlight the historical and architectural features of Broadway, and the City of Rock Island, which wanted to formalize neighborhood planning for all city neighborhoods, led to Rock Island's first neighborhood plan. A group of committed residents, city staff members and preservationists formalized a conservation plan that was formally approved by the Rock Island City Council on April 20, 1992. The Broadway Neighborhood Conservation plan was created to address the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing Broadway.
Broadway Historic District Association
One of the highest priorities in the early days of organizing was to petition for the neighborhood to become a Local Historic District. Local Historic Districts are regulated by the Rock Island Preservation Commission, which provides considerable protection for the historic character of homes but also restricts activities. Although Local Historic District status was pursued, preservationists were not able to generate adequate support in the neighborhood. On the other hand, historic designation on the National Register of Historic Places had the support of many neighbors but a preliminary analysis of the neighborhood indicated that Broadway lacked the architectural integrity to qualify for the National Register. In other words, too many of homes had been remodeled, remuddled, or striped of detail to qualify. There was also the expense of preparing an application documenting the 800 plus structures within the boundaries of Broadway. Finally, there was the need to ensure that all residents understood and agreed with a historic designation.
In addition to the annual Tour of Homes, Broadway’s other pioneering event is the "Great Unveiling". This special day in late April, when friends and neighbors gather to remove artificial siding from homes, has resulted in re-beautification of many Broadway homes and has gained nationwide publicity for this innovative idea. Visitors from other areas have participated in unveilings and have taken the idea back to their own communities. It also served to generate excitement and understanding of the preservation movement within Broadway to the residents. As houses were unveiled and restored, Broadway reduced the number of disqualifying properties. And in 1998, the Broadway Historic Area applied for and received designation on the National Register of Historic Places. The name and logo of the association were altered to reflect the new status, becoming the Broadway Historic District Association.