View Full Version : Graham-Ginestra House - Rockford, Illinois

11-11-2008, 20:25


"The Graham-Ginestra House was constructed in 1857. The original owner, Freeman Graham, Sr., was a prominent local businessman who built the first sour mash distillery in the State of Illinois, and achieved a national reputation for his whiskies. Graham was also part owner of the Rockford Cotton Mills, and his home at 1115 S. Main Street was located approximately midway between the Mills (202 S. Main) and the Graham Distillery (1602-08 S. Main)."


>Chuck, are you familiar with this local history?


Here is a court case: Graham vs Eiszner re barrel order, fail to pay, quality etc. pg 269-78

The term "wantage" is used re the evaporation loss...> the angels share.

11-11-2008, 20:34
Also...another old distillery in the area I was unfamiliar with:


A. Bauer Distillers and Importers


A. Bauer & Co. was in business in Chicago from 1893-1918. A Bauer & Co. (1893-1908), A Bauer Distilling & Importing Co. (1909-1915), and as the A Bauer Distilling & Importing Co. (1916-1918).

A. Bauer, Pres. & Manager, Tucker Hardy, Vice Pres., W J Knaus, Secretary and Horace F Hardy, Treasurer (1899).

Brand names used by this company include: "Anchor Brand Peppermint Schnapps", "Dan Patch", "Old Rampart", "Sedgwick", "Sir John Canada Malt", and "Torrance AAA."

11-12-2008, 12:53
I know that in the late pre-Prohibition period, Illinois produced nearly as much whiskey as Kentucky, but I don't know a lot of the specifics. Peoria was a big distilling center. I didn't know it reached Rockford. Interesting.

11-21-2008, 13:50
i know that there's a town highway named distillery road, some 5 or 10 miles east of rockford- in a very rural farm area. it runs north-south and intersects with U.S. highway 20. if i recall, i think it's off business 20, west of belvedere. passed it by one day a year or so ago. i've not investigated further.an odd name for a road if there was never a distillery on it, would you agree?jim kube

11-21-2008, 14:47
I have to think it connected to the old distillery....worth a trip? Maybe you or FishngbowlJoe can give a report on what if anything of the old distillery is left on the Main street site. I know downtown Rockford has some historic warehouse buildings near that location.

Google map


11-21-2008, 15:13
I don't know...looking at the map Distillery road appears to be a short road that does not run into Rockford from Belvidere....there must be a story though...wonder if there were associated operations there?


11-22-2008, 09:49
It wouldn't be that distillery. The distillery road is, if I remember correctly, near that driving range between Rockford and Belvidere. I've driven the length of it and not found any distillery remains, although that was a long time ago and my eye is much better for these things these days.

I can't for the life of me place that house. Based on the address it should be near Morgan and S Main, which is all Spanish-language shops and the decaying remains of Rockford's Industrial Age history. I can't see it with Google Maps.

11-22-2008, 11:43
Craigthom...here is the map info:


It appears to be on the intersection of S Main (IL Rt 2) and Morgan / College
but you are right...Google maps does not show it...street view shows just businesses. This shot explains why...it is situated at an odd angle away from the street...surrounded by businesses:


Street view of Distillery road just shows a country lane with fields on each side....of course that is just one shot....it would be interesting to find out the local naming history behind it.

11-22-2008, 12:01
From what I can estimate...the old distillery would be around the intersections of Rt 2 -Main, Graham, Lincoln Ave & Rock St


There are newer businesses / facilities of some sort..."St Elizabeth Community Center / Catholic"...and a warehouse / loading dock building of some sort...."Comfort Zone".."Miller Engineering."

If there was anything there...is appears long gone or possibly converted. It might be in a kind of dicey part of town...not sure if I would want to stop and look around.

11-26-2008, 09:59
I don't know...looking at the map Distillery road appears to be a short road that does not run into Rockford from Belvidere....there must be a story though...wonder if there were associated operations there?


i did some googling. distillery road ends at the kishwaukee river. that's a fairly wide, fast-moving river that starts near woodstock and empties into the rock river south of rockford..... this was apparently farmland before the 1970's. it's now a nature conservation area and soccer field. that's all i could find with a short search.

wanna make a bet that at some point in the 19th century, there was a farmhouse distillery there, down at the river?

edit- further research shows a "Belvidere Distilling Co., Belvidere, IL ", receiving federal support during WWII to produce grain alcohol for the war effort, then suing the government later on. it could be that a wartime plant was located on this road, then was torn down in the 1950's.


11-26-2008, 14:22
Good work...that makes sense...the plant was to convert distillery waste into animal feed. Just need an address to confirm the location.

Belvidere Distilling Co. v. Reconstruction Fin. Corp., 211 F.2d 893, 896 (7th Cir. 1954)


11-26-2008, 14:42
Lake Geneva, WI......


In 1836, Christopher Payne from Belvidere......

"By 1840, there were two hotels, two general stores, three churches, and a distillery added to the mills, cabins and houses."