The Spirit Of 1908

The Spirit of 1908 & Club History

Downtown Boys Club at the intersection
of Walnut & Madison

On May 4, 1908, the Rockford Boys Club (currently known as Boys & Girls Club of Rockford) was incorporated.

Jessie Spafford served as the Club’s first Board President. She and the woman’s auxiliary, which was put together by Ladies Aid Society of the Old First Church, set out to help local young men “look after themselves.

Less than a year later, at a special meeting of the board of directors held in February 1909, the board voted to buy the Hale property at the corner of Walnut and Madison Streets. This site would become what most people affectionately refer to as the “Downtown Club“.

The Club’s founders possessed an entrepreneurial can-do spirit. They recognized the need to get young people off the streets. They were solutions-focused and innovated a youth development program that Rockford had never seen before.

The 1908 Society draws its sense of purpose and enthusiasm from the Club’s founders. Similarly, members of the 1908 Society possess the same drive and determination for building a better Rockford area. They understand the profound impact Club programming has its members’ lives and the direction of an entire community.

This dynamic is best captured in something an alumnus of the Club wrote to current Club CEO & President Clifford Stoner:

“I will always remember the Club on Walnut Street as a place where my life started. The people running the Club in the ’40s and ’50s saved my life and gave me opportunities I can never forget.”
~Eugene Waterfall