Rockford’s historic Haight Village offers affordable homes close to downtown

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford’s downtown has seen a resurgence, and residents are interested in getting closer to the action. One neighborhood that’s gaining popularity is the historic Haight Village, near the city’s center.

“We love downtown. We love the energy and excitement and everything that’s going on,” said Rebecca White Newgren, who moved in to a home in Haight Village in the Spring. “[We] love to be able to walk out our front door and go to dinner, or something going on at City Market, or whatever it is.”

Conor Brown, CEO of Rockford Area Realtors, said, “Affordable price points allow folks to come in and purchase a lot of home for their money, and so that really makes it kind of an attractive situation for neighborhoods like this.”

Some of the homes in Haight Village, sporting Victorian, Greek Revival, Queen Anne or Gothic architecture, are between 100 and 150 years old, dating back to the beginning of Rockford.

The 13 block neighborhood was named for Daniel Shaw Haight, the first person to settle on the east side of the Rock River in 1835.

It is bounded by Walnut Street on the north, Kishwaukee Street on the east, Chicago and Northwestern Railroad tracks on the south, and Madison Street on the west.

Nathan Arroyave just moved in. “We’re looking around Rockford and it happened that this house opened up on a Monday afternoon. We saw it for sale. We walked through it on Wednesday and we put in an offer on Friday.”

The antique details in the woodwork or lighting fixtures are just some of the points that draw people to the homes.

“But, it’s also a challenge. It’s a lot of work,” Newgren said. “I’m like, ‘Look at this doorknob, it’s so beautiful!’ and then it comes off in my hand. I think it was a challenge that we were willing to take on. Older homes often have lots of different things going on. But, for right now, the housing in downtown isn’t valued, maybe, where it could be, and so it kind of leaves some extra funds.”

The maintenance and updating of the historic properties prevents them from becoming another blighted property in the Forest City.

Brown said, “Put a little bit of sweat equity into it and ultimately make it a nicer place, not only for them personally, but their neighbors on either side or across the street. That’s the best of both worlds.”

Haight Village was designated as Rockford’s first historic district in 1980.

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