Welcome to Friendly Freeport!
Small town living with big business appeal! Freeport has a long, rich heritage which goes back to the mid-19th century. Even our founding father, William "Tutty" Baker and his partners, had commerce in mind when they incorporated the settlement that would be known as Freeport. From its earliest days, Freeport has always been a place where newcomers are greeted warmly and new business is welcomed.
Over the past few decades Freeport has become home to the headquarters, or major divisions, of four Fortune 500 companies. Its sometimes referred to as the "Hartford of the West" because of the large number of insurance companies that have major underwriting and claims processing facilities within the city limits. Because of this concentration of commerce and industry, Freeport attracts business professionals from across the country. They appreciate the opportunity to experience small town living in an environment where theres a focus on recreation when the days work is done.
Freeport and Stephenson County provide more than 700 acres of parkland; many housing developments centered on lakes or golf courses; and just enough distance to the big cities of Rockford, Chicago, and Madison to make them convenient without daily traffic, noise and congestion problems. Golf, boating, fishing, snowmobiling, and both downhill and cross-country skiing are readily available.
The Freeport Area Chamber of Commerce welcomes you. Feel free to call us anytime; were your "one-stop shop" for advice on the Freeport area. We hope youll find our midwestern lifestyle to your liking.
Patricia M. Lee
Freeport is changing. Already home to four Fortune 500 companies or their leading divisions, it is attracting new
businesses and industrial firms. These are drawing to the community young and sophisticated professionals and others, who, in turn, are stimulating a dramatic change in the fabric of the community. As a result, Freeport looks not only to its wealth of history, but to its future as a dynamic city.
Long the commercial hub of Stephenson County, Freeport is seeing rapid growth in its retail sector, as well, providing consumers with a wider range of
quality goods at moderate prices.
Throughout Stephenson County, large and
elegantly styled executive homes are dotting the
beautiful wooded hills and valleys that give the area
a mark of distinction. In Freeport and the smaller communities of Stephenson County, a broad range of quality housing is available, from comfortable single family homes, townhomes, and condominiums to apartments for young families and senior citizens.
Both public and private school systems excel in their task of educating the young people of the city and county. The Freeport campus of Highland Community College assures easy access to higher education and appropriate training in job skills
needed by area businesses and industry. Highland also serves as the local site for classes offered by Columbia College, for those who desire
The areas energetic residents make full use of 780 acres of well-equipped parkland and other recreation facilities in the community. At the same time, they give physical and financial support to the 69 churches and houses of worship in Freeport, alone.
Stephenson County families regularly come together as participants and audience for a lengthy list of festivals and cultural events that fill the areas social calendar. Ready access to expert medical care is assured through Freeport Memorial Hospital and several area clinics.
The image of todays Freeport and Stephenson County is an image of exciting change.
Its easy come, easy go in Freeports transportation network. The city is at the center of a large agricultural area about 25 miles west of Rockford, via U.S. Highway 20. U.S. 20 is a
convenient, four-lane divided highway that skirts the communitys northern edge. At Rockford, it links with Interstates 90 and 39, giving Freeport residents easy access to the entire Interstate
system. I-90 is the major route between Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul. I-39 extends from Rockford to Bloomington where it links with I-74 and I-55. From Freeport, Route 20 continues west to historic Galena, Illinois, and the metropolitan area of Dubuque, Iowa.
Two other highways, State Routes
26 and 75, tie the city with neighboring communities in Stephenson County. Highway 26 links with I-88 to the south. Route 75 extends northeast to Beloit, Wisconsin, where it
intersects with I-43, a route to Milwaukee and Green Bay.
Freeport air travelers drive the short distance to the Greater Rockford Airport, located in the southwest corner of Rockford. The airport is served by Northwest Airlink which connects to more than 400 domestic and international destinations. Limousine
service to the airport is available to all residents of Stephenson County.
Eight air freight services also serve the airport, which is 35th in the nation in the number of cargo flights that arrive and depart. It is the second busiest UPS hub in the United States. It is Foreign Trade Zone #176 and a Port of Entry for U.S. Customs.
Freeports Albertus Airport is a base for private and corporate aircraft. Located three miles south of the city, the airport accommodates small jets with a 5,500-foot-long paved and lighted runway. Two grass runways, 2,800 and 2,700 feet in length are used by small privately owned planes. The airport offers flight training and
charter service. Chicagos OHare International Airport
is about 90 minutes from Freeport.
The shipping needs of the citys business and
industry are served by the Canadian National Railroad and by some 50 motor freight carriers. One of the motor freight haulers has a terminal in Freeport.
Taxi service is available in Freeport and the Stephenson County Senior Center provides door
to door transportation for the elderly.
In 1827, German settlers from Pennsylvania began arriving in the Freeport area to make their homes. Among them was William "Tutty" Baker, credited as the founder of Freeport, who built a trading post on the banks of the Pecatonica River. A generous man, Tutty Baker began operating a free ferry across the river and even invited travelers into his home for meals and lodging.
Originally called Winneshiek, the community took its name from the fact of Bakers renowned generosity "Free Port" when it incorporated. Winneshiek was later adopted and is preserved to this day by the Freeport community theatre group. Each August, Freeport remembers Tutty Baker with a joyous festival.
In 1837, Stephenson County was formed and in 1838 Freeport became its seat of government. Linked by stagecoach with Chicago, the community grew rapidly. In 1840, a frame courthouse was erected and the first school was founded. Within two years, Freeport had two newspapers and in 1853 the two were joined by a third which published in German.
By then, the community had a population of 2,000.
On August 27, 1858, the most significant of the historic Lincoln-Douglas debates took place in Freeport and gave the nation direction in succeeding years. Although Douglas won the election and retained his senate seat, his reply to a question on slavery alienated the South, which called it the "Freeport Heresy," and split the Democratic Party. This enabled Lincoln to win the presidency in 1860.
A monument to the debate was dedicated in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt and stands at its site. A life size statue recreating the event (pictured here) was dedicated in 1992. Another renowned statue, "Lincoln the Debater," by Leonard Crunelle, is a focal point in the citys Taylor Park.
The Stephenson County Historical Society preserves local history in "Bohemiana," an Italianate
mansion once owned by Oscar and Malvina Taylor and listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Taylors devoted their energies to creating an arboretum at the site and today it contains the largest variety of old trees in the county. Also on the property are a Farm Museum, a relocated one-room schoolhouse, and an 1840 log cabin.
The Taylors hosted many guests at Bohemiana, including such well known personalities as Horace Mann, Horace Greeley, Stephenson County native Jane Addams, Edward Everett Hale, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Freeport is the birthplace of
several celebrities. Among them is Calista Flockhart, the star of the Fox Networks acclaimed "Ally McBeal" television show. Other noteworthy personalities born in Freeport include Luella Parsons, the famous columnist; Deacon Davis of Harlem Globetrotters fame; and Robert Johnson,
founder of BET.
From a base at Freeport, there is much to see and do in the city, Stephenson County, and all of northwest Illinois even venturing into southwestern Wisconsin and touching on Iowa.
The Freeport area has many appealing places to stay, from delightful bed and breakfasts and quality hotels to great places for family camping, like Lake
Le-Aqua-Na State Park, just north of Lena. The 715-acre park
surrounds a 40-acre lake and
offers 177 campsites, most with electricity. The park offers
swimming, fishing, and boating, plus trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
Stephenson County is home to dozens of restaurants, a generous mix of excellent family dining and fast food outlets, spiced with a few exceptional restaurants catering to ethnic and gourmet diners.
The rich past of the area is everywhere to be seen, from Freeports Lincoln-Douglas statue commemorating the second and decisive Debate to Lenas 1895 water tower, from Freeports Bohemiana mansion to the Apple River Fort at Elizabeth, from Freeports Old River School Historic District to Kents Blackhawk War Monument and the historical museums in Cedarville, Lena, and German Valley.
Antiquers revel in touring the towns and hamlets of Stephenson County and poking around in the many antique shops to be found along the way in places like Lena, Pearl City, and in Freeport itself. Avid shoppers enjoy browsing in Freeports downtown district and
nearby shopping centers as well as in the countys several smaller communities. In Davis, Freeport, and Lena are shops that sell specialty foods: cheese, candy, old-fashioned potato chips, and farm raised beef and pork. Area apple orchards also draw crowds of visitors during their seasons.
On selected weekends in spring and fall, the Fever River Railroad delights whole families in small ways. The amazing HO gauge model railroad measures 103 by 24 feet and is highly detailed, with actual buildings duplicated in miniature along its right-of-way.
For art lovers, the Freeport Arts Center is a genuine treat. The centers six galleries feature Native American pots, dolls, and baskets; 19th century European paintings and sculpture; Asian decorative arts; Egyptian, Greek, and Roman antiquities; Oceanic
ceremonial masks and other pieces; and
contemporary art works.
There are special attractions in Stephenson County that amuse and amaze visiting families. A carriage service in Ridott offers rides in an expertly restored antique horse-drawn carriage providing
memorable photo opportunities. The naturally flowing artesian well in Winslow has been pouring out thousands of gallons of
pure water each day since 1927.
Just beyond Stephenson County are places that are a delight to visit. One is historic Galena, where practically the entire community is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and Main Street is lined with quaint boutiques and excellent restaurants. Straight north of Freeport is Monroe, Wisconsin, the states cheese capital. A few minutes west of Galena, visitors can enjoy gaming aboard a riverboat casino.
The rolling and wooded landscape of the Freeport area has provided builders with the perfect canvas on which to convey their art. Quiet, picturesque home sites are often sheltered in wooded hills, look out on shaded parks or on the sunny fairways of a golf course, or overlook a lake, pond or creek.
Freeport homes range widely in age, size, style, and price. Great homes from the late 19th and early 20th centuries are found along Stephenson Street as it stretches
westward between downtown and
Park Boulevard. Lining this colorful, tree-shaded thoroughfare are Victorian, Tudor, Federal, Italianate, and other rich styles from the decades surrounding the turn-of-the-century.
Many newer executive style homes dot the hilly area surrounding wooded Krape Park and along the fairways of the Freeport Country Club. More new executive style single family homes are found in the north and west areas of the city, in the vicinity of 36-hole Park Hills Golf Course, and in sparkling subdivisions like Deer Hills, Wildwood Estates, and along Forest Road, in the southwestern part of the community.
Both new and long established areas of the city display a variety of styles: Cape Cods, bungalows, American Foursquares, split-levels, townhomes, condominiums,
and apartments. Cherokee Hills subdivision offers both contemporary townhomes and modern single family homes. Indian Springs combines ranch style duplexes and single family homes. Country Club Condominiums are nestled into a wooded area next to Krape Park and
the Freeport Country Club.
Westport Village townhomes, Kiwanis Manor Apartments, Westwind Apartments, and Cheshire Court Apartments line Kiwanis Drive, near the sprawling and beautiful campus of Highland Community College. Several apartment
complexes in Freeport and Stephenson County offer independent living for senior citizens.
In the rural countryside around Freeport, large single family homes share the views with prosperous family farms. The several small communities of Stephenson County offer the same range of homes as are found in Freeport, but in an environment of small town familiarity.
Freeport School District 145 is committed. Theyre committed to giving all students a solid educational base on which to build a lifetime of success. Theyre committed to encouraging families to take an active and meaningful part in their schools.
Each year, 5,000 students from Freeport and the nearby communities of Cedarville and Ridott attend District 145. First-to-fourth grade students attend Blackhawk, Center, Empire, Lincoln-Douglas and Taylor Park elementary schools. Carl Sandburg Middle School serves the fifth and sixth graders before they head on to Freeport Junio High School for the seventh and eighth grade and four years at Freeport High School.
The districts newest school serves the areas youngest students. The Jones-Farrar Early Learning Center opened in 1995 and was designed with young learners in mind. The center also houses a Head Start classroom, Northwest Illinois Special Education Preschool, the at-risk preschool program Prekindergarten Active Steps to Success and the YMCA Day Care.
Each day in District 145, the 700 faculty, staff and administration members work hard to educate the whole child. Building on a foundation of reading, math, language arts and other academic basics enhanced by consistent use of technology, District 145 is preparing students for the 21st Century. The curriculum covers science, social studies and other academics, but also addresses the socail, emotional, intellectual and physical needs of the children who come to their schools. The district is proud of its award winning sports, music, and activities programs. Discussions of substance abuse, ody safety, personal health and non-violent conflict resolution encourage health emotional and social growth. Special needs are met through programs such as Title I, Special Education, Speech and Gifted Education programs.
In each school, students have regular access to computers in the
classroom or in labs.
When District 145 students leave five grade schools and come together at Carl Sandburg Middle School, they come to an environment structured toward preparing students for the academic and social challenges of junior high and high school. Students are grouped into traditional or multi-grade teams, remaining with the same group of students throughout their two years at Carl Sandburg. In addition to their rigorous academic studies, students attend PRIME TIME, the daily advisory period, where the focus is on personal development: self-esteem, multi-cultural diversity, conflict resolution, goal setting and problem solving.
Students are also encouraged to develop leadership skills as Representatives of Active Participating Students who represent their classmates in discussions of school activities and procedures and as sixth-grade Ambassadors who perform school and community services.
At Freeport Junior High School, a team approach is also used to provide core instruction in math, science, social studies, physical education and language arts. Elective opportunities include band, orchestra, foreign languages, home economics, industrial technology, art and computers. A range of sports, arts, and service programs are offered as extra-curricular activities.
A comprehensive menu of electives and extracurricular activities awaits students at Freeport High School. With the emphasis still firmly on the basics, students have the chance to explore arts,
foreign languages, journalism, business education, computer science and technology, and vocational programs through the countywide vocational and technical education systems, SAVTES.
District 145 is proud to see their students go on to the best colleges and universities around the country. District 145 offers each student a high-quality education and works to raise the bar year after year.
Freeport offers excellent alternatives to public education in several private and parochial systems. Freeport Christian Academy is a K-12 school operated at the Freeport Baptist Church and has a small enrollment.
Tri-County Christian School has two campuses in Freeport and enrools about 185 students in preschool through the eight grade. The core curriculum includes strong emphasis on publis speaking, creative writing, and computers skills in addition to the basics of reading, language arts, math and science. The school offers a "latchkey"
program for youngsters in first through fifth grade.
Freeport Catholic Elementary School and Aquin Catholic Junior/ Senior High School combine to provide a complete, faith-centered first through 12th grade academic education. A new preschool at St. Thomas Church provides educational activities for children three to five years of age. The elementary school houses kindergarten through the sixth grade. The curriculum is broad based and focuses on the basics.
Aquin Catholic Junior/Senior High School has more than 200 students enrolled in seventh through 12th grade. Its college prep courses emphasize communication skills, social studies, math and science. Daily religion classes help to instill Christian values in students. A full 95 percent of graduates go on to some form of higher education. The school encourages participation in a wide range of extracurricular activities, including National Honor Society, yearbook, student council, and an Interactive Service Club. Students can also participate in a broad schedule of sports and athletics and in band and music programs.
The 140-acre campus of Highland Community College sprawls with grace and beauty on Freeports west side. The two-year college serves a district population of 90,000 from Stephenson, Ogle, Jo Daviess, and Carroll Counties. Each semester, the college enrolls approximately 7,500 students who range from 16 to 86 years of age. The average age of students is 32.
The Highland campus has seven buildings: the Liberal Arts Center, the Science Center, the Technology Center, the Community Services Center, the Sports Center, and the Student/Conference Center. Included on the campus is a natural prairie, woodland, a pond, outdoor study areas, four softball diamonds, a baseball field, physical education fields, and a multipurpose athletic field. A mile-long paved and lighted bike path links the college to the edge of Freeport. An encircling roadway gives access to several parking areas.
Highland College awards Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, Associate of Engineering Science, and Associate in General Studies degrees in 28 majors, including agriculture, business administration, computer science, history, music, physics, political science, pre-medicine, psychology, theatre, and others. It awards certificates in 21 different career programs.
In addition, the college awards Associate of Applied Science in 17 career subjects. Staying
current with technology, Highland has 275
computers in seven labs dedicated to student use. Each student has an E-mail account.
The colleges Community and Corporate Education (CCE) division offers creative programming to meet the needs and interests of area
individuals, groups, and businesses. To achieve
this goal, CCE offers credit and non-credit classes, workshops and seminars, adult basic education, workplace literacy and customized contract courses, and activities for children and senior citizens.
Highland Colleges CCE has five major components: Adult Education, Community Education, Continuing Education, Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, and Workforce Development.
The Adult Education Program is composed of literacy classes, adult basic education, general education development preparation courses, English as a second language instruction, career exploration/job skills classes, and workplace literacy classes. Community Education offers non-credit and non-vocational courses designed to appeal to the general public.
Continuing Education offers both credit and non-credit courses, mostly during evening hours at extension sites throughout the college district. Highland College serves as a sponsoring organization for RSVP, the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of the Corporation for National Service.
Highlands Workforce Development Center provides customized training to companies throughout the Freeport area.
Students who have achieved an Associate Degree can complete their college work at the Highland Community College campus, thanks to Columbia College, which has its main campus in Columbia, Missouri. Columbia
conducts evening and Saturday classes that lead to four
different degrees: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems, Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, and Bachelor of Arts in Individual Studies.
Proximity to Rockford allows Freeport students to commute for higher education opportunites. Rockford College, a private, liberal arts college, awards bachelor degrees in nearly 50 majors. At its Rockford Education Center, Northern Illinois University offers about 35 courses in Business, Education, Engineering and Engineering Technology, Health and Human Sciences, and Liberal Arts and Sciences. Freeport
students also commute to classes at NIUs main campus in DeKalb. Highly skilled physicians are training at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford. Beloit College, in Beloit, Wisconsin, is about the same distance from Freeport as is Rockford College.
Of course, the famed universities in Chicago are also available to Freeport area students. Among these are the University of Illinois-Chicago, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Loyola University, and DePaul University.
Freeport boasts more than 200 national, regional and local stores offering an array of brand-name merchandise at value-oriented prices. A number of shops and boutiques also carry an assortment of handcrafted items and other special offerings. Friendly, courteous service is always part of the pleasure when shopping in Freeport.
More than 100 of these commercial outlets are located in downtown Freeport, the citys major shopping district. Everything is available from downtown merchants and consumer services suppliers including appliances, computers, accounting services, legal services, antiques and collectibles, art and craft supplies, banks, picture frames, flowers, videos, CDs and tapes, sporting goods, cleaners, hardware and building supplies, food products, fashionable shoes and clothes for the whole family, fine jewelry and gifts. Nearly a dozen coffee shops and restaurants are situated in the downtown area serving shoppers and the thousands of people who work in the offices, stores and manufacturing facilities of downtown Freeport.
Lincoln Mall, on West Galena Avenue, on the citys northwest side, offers the comfort of indoor shopping at a large home improvement center, a furniture store, and a dozen other quality shops. An Eagle Country Market food store is also conveniently located on the northwest side. A variety of other stores and restaurants are clustered in the vicinity. Shopping and restaurant opportunities continue west on Galena Avenue all the way to the neighboring town of Lena.
Another major shopping area is growing on the citys south side. The Meadows Shopping Center located on Highway 26 South is a large, convenient shopping center anchored by a Big K-Mart and a J.C. Penney department store with additional smaller specialty shops and service providers. The other shopping centers on South Street and West Avenue are home to several stores that meet a wide variety of needs -- from sewing and crafts to toys, home furnishings and home decor. Three major supermarkets and a number of restaurants satisfy many food needs. The south side is also home to Walmart and Shopko department stores, and several automobile dealers.
Visitors frequently tour Stephenson County in search of bargains. They find then in the dozens of antique malls and shops and in small town markets. For example, in Lena, located on scenic Stagecoach Trail, shopping is still done in locally owned stores that face each other across railroad tracks, remembering a time when the railroad was vital to the economy of the community.
Within an easy hours drive, a multitude of other shopping opportunities await in places like Rockford, Galena, Madison,
A highly diverse collection of business and industry is well established in Freeport and Stephenson County. The city is a center for the insurance industry, with such well known names as The St. Paul, General Casualty, Western States Insurance, Trustmark, Kemper, and Viking Insurance. It is also a major industrial center, with four Fortune 500 companies on its lengthy roster of manufacturing firms.
The citys largest employer is Honeywells Micro Switch division, which has several plants in various locations within the city and county. This world class company makes a wide variety of switches, sensors, and related interface and local control components for the OEM market. It has more than 3,000 workers.
The 300-acre industrial campus of Kelly-Springfield Tire Company is in the rural area southeast of Freeport. The firms 1,700 workers produce automobile, truck, and farm tractor tires.
With 1,000 employees, the Newell Window Furnishings Company makes drapery hardware and window treatments under the brand names of Newell, Levolor, Magic Fit, Spectrim, Joanna, and Kirsch. The parent company of Newell Window Furnishings is Newell Company, which also has its worldwide headquarters in Freeport.
Among Freeports other major employers is Furst-McNess Company, founded in Freeport in 1908. Furst-McNess makes and distributes feed premix for farm animals, plus a large variety of household products,
flavoring, desserts, mustards, and spices. It employs about 250 people.
Sauer-Sundstrand, with some 350 workers, produces hydrostatic pump and motor components. More than 300 professionals are employed at the headquarters of Newell Co., located in downtown Freeport. Anchor-Harvey has about 150 workers and produces nonferrous forgings, brass and aluminum alloys, and does general machining for various
manufacturers and aerospace contractors. Star Manufacturing Company has about 80 workers and produces plow
replacement parts and industrial forgings. Ultrasonic Power Corporation has 30 employees and produces ultrasonic
power supplies and components for the ultrasonic cleaning
and biotechnical markets both here and abroad.
A wide range of products originate in the Freeport area. They include potato chips, rebuilt engines, ready mix concrete, plastic molded model railroad switch stands, cultured marble, trophies, cheese, municipal water treating systems, packaging, roll forming and sheet metal working machinery, molded
plastics, automation equipment, vending machines
and snack foods.
An Enterprise Zone established several years ago,
encompasses Freeports primary industrial sector,
plus an expanding commercial area on the citys south side. Companies in the Enterprise Zone can take advantage of a variety of economic incentives. The attraction of the Zone has helped the community
acquire its Walmart and Shopko department stores
and the Seaga Manufacturing Co.
A Tax Increment Finance district established about the same time as the Enterprise Zone covers Freeports central business district and a small area of the old industrial section. It seeks to encourage restoration and redevelopment of downtown business facades and other improvements.
An organization known as Freeport Downtown Development was formed in 1998 to focus on the process of downtown transformation for the 21st century.
Agriculture continues to contribute strongly to
the areas economy. More than 1,400 farms in Stephenson County raise beef and dairy cattle and produce corn, soybean, hay, oats, and other cash crops. The largest dairy producing county in Illinois, Stephenson County has 23,000 dairy cows producing 346,344,000 pounds of milk annually. The market value of all farm products sold
is $125,000,000 annually.
Business travelers to Freeport have a wide choice of
excellent accommodations in six hotels and motels with more than 300 rooms. In addition, there are attractive bed and breakfast establishments in Lena and Orangeville. Meeting and banquet facilities will seat as many as 550 persons. The more than 70 restaurants in Freeport and Stephenson County offer a wide variety of menus from fast-food to ethnic cuisine.
Freeport and Stephenson County families live close to nature and enjoy the great outdoors in any season. They make full use of city parks, county parks, and a 715-acre state park contained within the countys boundaries.
The Freeport Park District maintains more than 770 acres of parkland in eight parks, a nature preserve, and a new wetlands preserve. In addition, the district operates Park Hills Golf Course, with two 18-hole courses.
The largest of the citys parks is heavily wooded Krape Park, site of a picturesque waterfall that tumbles down from a high limestone bluff, an operating carousel, a handsome band shell, nature trails, miniature golf course, tennis courts, a baseball field, playground, picnic tables, a duck pond, boat rentals, and a
concession stand. Yellow Creek meanders through a portion of the park.
Thirty-six-acre Read Park, the location of the Park Districts headquarters, features an Aquatic Center swim complex of pools and a huge water slide. In addition, it has ball fields, tennis, basketball, and shuffleboard courts, floral gardens, a playground, sand volleyball, picnic sites, and concession stands. A community room in the park is available to community organizations and individuals.
Taylor Park, on the citys northeast side, is the site of the Lincoln "The Debater" statue. In addition, Taylor Park offers softball fields, a playground, a basketball court, a tennis court, sand volleyball, picnic area, and a shelter house.
The Park Districts Oakdale Nature Preserve covers 133 acres and offers a lodge with kichen and dining facilities for overnight stays, a nature center, nature trails, a native prairie, team building course, and an auditorium.
Area golfers enjoy the challenges offered by the 36 holes at the Districts Park Hills Golf Course. Among the features of Park Hills are a driving range, clubhouse with a grill and a pro shop, instructions by a golf professional, cart rentals, horseshoe courts, and the Jets Observatory that opens at dusk for star gazing through a 12-inch telescope. Many other excellent golf courses are within an hour of Freeport, including the world-class golf courses at the luxurious Galena Territory development.
The Freeport Park District plans and
conducts a comprehensive, year-around
program of sports, activities, and recreation for residents of all ages. Among the instructions offered are swimming, golf, and boccie ball lessons, ceramics, photography, euchre, and holiday crafts. The District also organizes a variety of sports leagues for adults and teens, and plans trips to special locations and events for all age groups.
The Stephenson County Senior Center, in Freeport, provides a wide ranging program of activities and events specially designed for active senior citizens.
A short distance north of Lena, in
northwest Stephenson County, is Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park, with 177 camping sites on its 715 acres. In addition, the park has a 40-acre lake for swimming, boating, and fishing, seven miles of trails, and a concession stand. Bikers can explore the 21 miles of the Pecatonica Prairie Path between Freeport and Rockford.
The programs of Freeports YMCA and YWCA offer additional recreation and fitness activities for residents. The YMCA shares the space and facilities of the Sports Center on the campus of Highland Community College. The building features a 25-meter, six-lane swimming pool,
two saunas and two whirlpools, three indoor racquetball courts, two
gymnasiums, a walking/running track, a batting cage, a game lobby, Universal gym, Iron Works, and Nautilus equipment.
The Freeport YWCA is located close to downtown and offers
an indoor swimming pool, indoor racquetball courts, and privately
managed state-of-the-art fitness facility.
The smaller communities of Stephenson County also boast expansive park systems for outdoor family fun. Lenas Lions Park, for example,
features a new swimming complex with a high water slide called "Splash Land." The Lena Golf Club has two courses, the nine-hole Stagecoach Course and the 18-hole Wolf Hollow Course. In Pearl City, there are four well-equipped parks for family fun.
Tucked away in rural Northwest Illinois, Freeport delights all who come
with sights, sounds, and wonders that
have lasting appeal.
The Winneshiek Players theatre group has performed a variety of dramas, comedies, and musicals for area residents for more than 70 years. Staged in their own 210-seat theater, Winneshiek Playhouse, the more than 400 members present an annual season of entertainment.
Highland Community Colleges jazz band, show choir, community band, and community orchestra perform at the Ferguson Fine Arts Centre. Summerset Theatre productions run on a June through August schedule. The Freeport Community Concert Association presents everything from big band to symphony orchestra, from classical to jazz soloists. The associations annual season runs from September to April. All concerts are presented at the 1200 seat theatre of the Masonic Temple in downtown Freeport. Periodically other special entertainment events are also held at the Masonic Temple Theatre.
Each Sunday evening of summer, the Freeport Concert Band offers a free concert at the Krape Park band shell. The Freeport Choral Society presents concerts throughout the year, including a summer pops concert at the band shell.
Movies fans see all the latest Hollywood film releases at downtown Freeports eight screen Lindo Theatre.
The Freeport Arts Center is a treat for art lovers. It contains six enriching galleries that include 15th to 19th century painting and sculptures; Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities; Native American works and Pre-Columbian artifacts; 17th and 19th century decorative arts from Japan and China; ceremonial masks, pottery, and musical instruments from Oceanic and Southeast Asian cultures; works by contemporary artists, and monthly exhibits of local student artwork. The Art Centers W.T. Rawleigh collection features one of the best collections of Florentine mosaics in the world. The Philip Dedrick Collection displays Pre-Columbian pottery and Oceanic and African art. The Kenneth Parvin Memorial Collection consists of ancient gold jewelry, Roman glass, and other ancient artifacts.
For history lovers, the citys Silvercreek Museum offers 25 rooms of memorabilia from the late 1800s through the 1900s. They can also take a ride on the Silver Creek and Stephenson Railroad, riding in three antique cabooses and a covered outdoor passenger flat car pulled by a 36-ton, 1912 Heisler steam logging locomotive.
Freeports downtown public library is a cultural focal point in the community. The library has nearly 120,000 volumes, plus numerous videos, films, records, audio cassettes, CDs and other items. It boasts a computer center and a large local history collection. Total annual circulation at the library is in excess of 310,300.
More than a dozen area festivals highlight Stephenson Countys calendar of events. Among the biggest is the Tutty Baker Days Festival, honoring the memory of Freeports generous founder. The early August celebration attracts thousands of visitors each year. The festival
features live entertainment, an arts and crafts show, food, a beer
garden, historic tours, and special childrens rides and activities.
A 5K run, a one-mile fun walk, and a sport card show are also parts of Tutty Baker Days in downtown Freeport.
The Stephenson County Fairgrounds is the site of the seven-day Stephenson County Fair, the annual two-day Steam Threshing and Antique Show, and the one day Stephenson County Fibre Art Fair. All three attract big crowds. The County Fair retains the traditional features of county fairs: livestock judging, tractor pulls, country and western entertainers, food, and midway rides.
High school sports enthusiasts fill the stands at home games for the Freeport "Pretzels" and the Aquin Bulldogs. From May through September, stock car race fans pack Freeport Raceway Park for its schedule of races.
Numerous festivals and events take place in the smaller towns of Stephenson County. Pearl City is host to the annual Homecoming Festival in June. Lena holds its Winterfest in mid-January, Stagecoach Trail Festival in June, and Fall Festival in September. In July, German Valley holds its three day German Valley Day celebration. About the same time, Rock City celebrates Rock City Day. In all, close to 125 seperate festivals and events are enjoyed each year by Stephenson County residents. Excellent health care is readily available to Freeport and Stephenson County residents through a hospital facility in Freeport and
clinics and other medical services in the smaller towns and villages.
The Freeport Health Network, organized in 1995, is made up of Freeport Memorial Hospital, the Freeport Clinic, Family Medical Clinic, the Leonard C. Ferguson Cancer Center, Home Health Care and Hospice, HealthWorks Occupational Health Services, Urgent Care, and individual physicians throughout the area. The Network provides broad health care services for Stephenson and other counties in Northwest Illinois. The hospital and the Ferguson Cancer Center are affiliated with the University of Wisconsin Hospital, Clinics, and School of Medicine.
With 76 physicians on its medical staff,
200-bed Freeport Memorial Hospital offers a wide range of services, including sophisticated echocardiography and magnetic resonance
imaging (MRI), full body CT scanning, nuclear medicine, ultrasound, mammography, laser surgery, lithotripsy, intensive-coronary care and cardiac rehabilitation, and physical, occupational, respiratory, and speech therapies.
The hospital operates a Family Birthing Center that features labor, delivery, recovery, and postpartum rooms for each patient; a Sleep Center; Pain Clinic; Cataract Center; Continence Clinic; and the Freeport Regional Health Plan.
Memorial Hospitals 24-hour emergency service is staffed by physicians and nurses specially trained in emergency medicine. It is a state-designated Level II Emergency Care Center and also a Poison Control Center for the area.
The Freeport Clinic occupies a modern structure across Stephenson Street from Freeport Memorial. Organized in 1945, it has grown in number of physicians and services and operates four satellite facilities to serve the rural areas of Stephenson County.
The Monroe Clinic, established for more than 50 years, operates in eight locations, two of which are Freeport and Lena. The Clinic, as a whole, has 80 physicians on staff who are trained in 30 medical specialties and subspecialties. Fifteen health care professionals serve the medical needs of Freeport area patients. The services of the Monroe Clinic include cardiology, dermatology, emergency medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, internal medicine, optometry, orthopaedics, psychiatry, general surgery, thoracic surgery,
vascular surgery, sport medicine, and others.
Dozens of doctors, dentists, and other medical professionals have offices in Freeport and Stephenson County.
Three high quality nursing homes offering skilled short and long-term care are located in Freeport. Several more are found throughout Stephenson County and in neighboring counties. Three facilities provide treatment for substance abuse.
Two provided mental health services.
Early settlers of Freeport built churches
as gathering places. In these humble
structures, they worshiped, exchanged
news and information, shared friendships,
and fortified their spirits for the challenging days until the next gathering.
Today, Freeport is home to 69 houses of worship representing all major denominations. The structures reflect traditional and modern architectural design in beautiful ways. Congregations gather to worship and
spread the warm feelings of fellowship and work together toward the goals of personal
and community betterment.
Residents dial 911 for emergency assistance. Police squad cars are equipped with mobile data terminals to enhance response time and provide officers with needed information. Among the public service programs maintained by the Police Department are the national D.A.R.E. drug awareness program, Neighborhood Watch.
The Freeport Fire Department operates out of three strategically placed fire stations, serving the
community and surrounding areas. The city has a
fire insurance rating of Class 3 in the city and
Class 8 in rural areas.
Freeport is the seat of Stephenson County government, giving the city administration proximity to county officials and opportunities to work cooperatively on issues of joint interest.
City leaders also work closely with the Freeport Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Foundation in seeking to expand existing business and industry and attract new firms to the community. Joint leadership efforts are responsible for the citys highly successful five-square-mile Enterprise Zone and the new enterprises it has drawn to the community.
The City of Freeport operates its own water utility, obtaining water from five wells. Plant capacity is 14,000,000 gallons per day, well in excess of peak
consumption. The citys waste water treatment plant operates with 2 million gallons excess capacity.
Residents obtain natural gas from Nicor, NI Gas. Electricity is furnished by ComEd. Telephone service
is provided by GTE.