Daryl and Cynthia Empen
We have lived in the Broadway Historic District for over 20 years now, and are proud to call it home. We choose to live in Broadway because we believe strongly in historic preservation. There is a shared sense of purpose in our neighborhood, and we want to ensure that these beautiful historic homes remain preserved, to tell the story of Rock Island and our history. We are on our 2nd home in Broadway, and have loved fixing up both homes. But Broadway is more than just a collection of old homes. We have great friends throughout the neighborhood who look out for each other and share our love of preservation. We are within walking distance of downtown. We have loved living in Broadway and raising our boys here. There is a shared sense of being in this all together, and we get great satisfaction from knowing we’re doing our part to maintain this beautiful home and neighborhood for the next 100 years.
Dylan and Tia Parker
If there were ever a neighborhood where your neighbors represented the vast variety of skills, knowledge, taste and culture of humanity, Broadway is it! I’ve written about why I chose to purchase our home in the Broadway Historic District of Rock Island, Illinois, in the local newspaper before, so I won’t retell that reason—that’s right, folks, I could write for days on why I love living in Broadway! To me, Broadway represents the picturesque neighborhood: We know many of our neighbors on a first-name basis, my kids run around with the other kids on our block all through the summer and we participate in community events, both as an organized neighborhood and individual.
Never before have I known so many active and involved people in a single neighborhood! If you’ve got a question on how to fix that leaky faucet, we’ve got neighbors that can help. In fact, just the other week I walked over and helped my neighbor figure out why his motorcycle wasn’t starting. We’re not only handy. You’ve got a question on how to register to vote? Or even who the local candidates are this year? Well, you bet there’ll be a neighbor nearby that’ll talk your ear off on the history and recent news regarding city government (if you want). Yes, we’ve got stay-at-home moms that make the most wonderful crafts to younger crowds that’ll fill you in on the next cool music event down at Rozz-Tox. We’ve got a DIY underground poetry venue (ran out of my garage!) and sophisticated events, like the Wine Walk or parties at the Hauberg Civic Center. We’ve got it all here in Broadway.
When I bought my first home, I knew I wanted it to be in Broadway. We are lucky to live in such a vibrant community. Keep being fantastic, neighbors! Life’s better in Broadway!
Wendy and Bill Rowand
In early 1998, Bill and I were living north of Geneseo in an old farmhouse. Bill had his construction company, Renaissance Construction, and I was teaching at the Erie Middle School, about 20 minutes away. Bob Yapp, who was at the time involved with his PBS TV show, About Your House with Bob Yapp, asked Bill to suspend Renaissance Construction and come to work for him as Production Manager at a local landmark property, 536 23rd Street, the James Beardsley House. The dilapidated structure was in line for demolition by the city when Bob purchased it. He planned to film the 2nd season of his show locally, with much to be filmed at the house project. The pictures prior to the start of renovation will attest to the scope of what needed to be done. As the project progressed, Bill began to fall in love with the house. Sometime that summer he asked what I thought about buying it. I began to see the house through Bill’s eyes and I, too, thought this could be our “forever” home. The top to bottom renovation was completed in record time since the project was scheduled to be unveiled as a “Designer Show Home” in late September of 1998. September remains a fog as we, along with many, many friends and paid employees worked long into the night, every night right up to the deadline to complete the project. Some of the friends were new friends from the neighborhood who were excited to see this formerly elegant home restored. By this time, we knew we were going to purchase the James Beardsley house. There was no way it could belong to anyone else! We moved in on Halloween 1998, as Deb Kuntzi stated in her testimonial, the same day and year that she and Paul moved into the A.D. Huesing home. We didn’t know each other at the time, but eventually met and as we compared stories, became great friends. Old house people tend to stick together! Our children were almost 18 and 20 when we moved in with our 2 golden retrievers and 3 cats. The kids gave us grief for years about moving to a huge house with three bathrooms when they were close to leaving home! Oh well. We still have dogs and cats, although not the same ones we came with. Bill and I have rooms we hardly use except when we have visitors (which is often), but we still love our landmark home, Broadway neighborhood, living in Rock Island, and our old house friends. Many have left the neighborhood, but Broadway seems to draw friendly people. We have been blessed with many new neighbors and friends over the years. After almost 18 years, Broadway is still a great place to live!
Molly and Tim McGuire
My husband and I came to Broadway for our Honeymoon and never left!
In October of 2014 we were married at Blackhawk State Historic Site and chose the nearby Victorian Inn on 20th Street for our celebratory lodging. It was amazing and we found ourselves totally in love with the beautiful architecture, the history, the friendly people... even the visiting cats on the Inn's back porch. We thought how wonderful it would be to live like this all of the time.
Immediately after, we noticed a "For Sale" sign in the yard of the most beautiful 1876 brick house. To us newlyweds and first time home buyers, it was a veritable mansion and I was sure something so stunning wouldn't be within our budget, but we called and scheduled a showing anyway. As we toured the home we were swept off our feet by a grand, winding staircase, tall French doors, the large windows, chandeliers, and a fantastic old fashioned kitchen with a working vintage stove. We called the realtor an hour after the showing. "We want it. We're in love. What do we have to do?"
It took awhile, as buying a home often does, and in the meantime we drove and walked by often, even taking our daughter trick or treating in "our neighborhood". Broadway hosts the best Halloween. Children and families all dressed up and running between enthusiastically decorated houses on brick streets, greeted by cheerful neighbors. We had our own Halloween party last year and welcomed previously unnaquainted neighbors as well as familiar friends and family- this is the kind of neighborhood you can do that in.
It's a great place for entertaining. We loved being a host house for the wine walk in our first year. I was pregnant with our now 7 month old son at the time, and later I would also discover what a helpful and supportive community we were living in, not just during times of celebration, but when a neighbor is in need of a helping hand as well. Our neighbors have even supported my husband and I in each of our respective small businesses, showing genuine interest in our art and what we do.
We love Broadway. It's the magic of the past and community strength for the future all at once.
Chuck and Diane Oestreich
We moved to RI in 1964 from Chicago. I had been working in Chicago at a wonderful job, but decided to stay home and just be a mom for a while. My husband had just started his teaching career and was offered a job at RIHS. After two months here, we decided we liked it and would look for a house, not a ‘starter’ house, but rather one we could live in forever. We spent considerable time with a realtor, looking at everything imaginable, but confining our search to RI. After a memorable weekend of visiting about two dozen homes, we started reading the newspaper and would call the realtor every time we saw an interesting listing. There were some we were very excited about, including one almost adjacent to Blackhawk Park. Although it looked nice on the outside, the inside was a maze of cobbled-together rooms.
Of the three houses that could work, all had flaws. One was in Broadway at 1025 21st Street. Unfortunately it had been poorly duplexed and the woodwork was all painted. Bathrooms and kitchens were thoughlessly placed as well. (Note, this house was beautifully restored about 20 years later by another owner). Another possibility was at 2223 24th Street. But it was overmodernized, with cove lighting built into the living room, an enclosed porch - and it was expensive. Another was on 8th Avenue, about 3833. It was covered in asphalt imitation brick and had a large lot that was gently sloped with no flat area. It would have been easy enough to mow but impossible for kids to play on. And while it had two full bathrooms of recent vintage, one had maroon tile and chartreuse fixtures; the other was the opposite.
So we went back to reading newspaper ads. One evening in October (the Argus was an afternoon paper then), there was a short, terse, 3-liner. I quickly had it memorized. Gracious nine room family home by owner. $18,000. (phone number). I called and got the address – 816 22nd Street. The owner said we could come over that evening. I deferred and said we’d look at the outside and maybe call later. After all, we’d been disappointed before.
The next day, I put one kid, almost 3, in the wagon and with the other, 4 ½, walking (we only had one car) we left downtown where we lived (now Sala, then Olmsted) and walked over to 22nd Street. It was instant love....but still tempered with knowing the interiors didn’t always match up with the exterior. I went home and called and got an invitation to visit the home that night, when we met Dr. Arthur and Eleanor Arnold, the homeowners.
They were selling because their last child had left home to go to U of Iowa and because the Augustana Seminary, where Dr. Arnold was employed, was moving to Chicago. They’d decided to establish residency in Iowa for lower tuition, so put their house on the market. When we visited, Ellie Arnold entertained our children at the piano while Dr. Art took us through the house. Still instant love! The wonderful center hall plan, with tall ceilings and oak woodwork was so spacious. The kitchen was big, with plenty of room to cook and eat.
We had been diligently saving our pennies and had arranged financing, so we wanted to move as soon as possible. After talking to our attorney (ALWAYS have your own attorney), we decided on closing the day after Thanksgiving and moving in right away. The transfer was flawless. The Arnolds allowed us to move things from our downtown apartment early once the deal was confirmed, and we started to fill the dining room. We also purchased some furniture from them.
After Thanksgiving, many new friends (we had known no one in RI before August) helped us move larger furniture at the same time Arnolds were moving out. Ellie had arranged something I would never have thought of... she hired someone to clean the closets as they were emptied, so once we moved our things in we didn’t have to move them out to dust and wipe things down. Our children were ecstatic as were we. It’s been virtually flawless ever since.
Deb Kuntzi and Paul Magnusson
In 1998, my medical billing office was located in The Safety Building in downtown Rock Island and an older lady, by the name of Sally Kleeman worked for me. My son, Josh was soon to be married and we were looking for a house for him in Rock Island. Sally’s house happened to be for sale by owner. Sally had been on preservation for a number of years and it was very apparent that she loved old houses. She had been telling me her house was for sale for quite awhile so Josh and I went and looked at it over lunch one day. You could barely see the house because of all the bushes and the enclosed porch, but when we walked inside I said “this is not your house, it’s mine” and that was it, love at first site. Paul and I were living in Edgington, IL and he did not want to move into the city, until he sat on the back porch steps and looked out into the yard of creeping Charlie and said “blank canvas, I like the backyard”. We moved in on October 31, 1998, (same day the Rowands moved into their house) and spent 3-1/2 years restoring it. The first year we were on the porch party, apparently I got the weekend wrong, Paul and I were stripping the bar room floor, we were covered in dust and a person rang the doorbell. I came downstairs and there was a couple at the door stating, “Is this the house that is on the porch party”, I said, “That is next weekend”. Wrong. I let them in and proceeded to guide them to the kitchen to help get cheese and crackers and whatever I had to eat and drink in the kitchen and as others arrived, they helped also, while Paul and I took showers. These were people that we had never met, but we felt that we had known them a lifetime. It was then we knew why we had come to Broadway and it is still like that to this day. Some of our friends have left the neighborhood, but they have become lifelong friends, not just neighbors while they lived here. Paul and I have many stories like the one above, some infamous, which maybe someday I will tell you while sitting on my front porch, drinking wine or rum and waving at people walking by. Broadway is our home, it’s where our grandchildren will always remember us when we are long gone and I wouldn’t live anywhere else (except New Orleans), but that’s another story.