March 5-6 events honor Swedish heritage

Swedish Historical Society Board President Richard Brynteson and the staff of the Erlander Home Museum, along with Rockford Mayor Doug Scott, invites the public to attend the official re-naming of the Jefferson Street Bridge to the Bernard Harvey Memorial Bridge at 2 p.m., Saturday, March 5. The re-naming honors Bernard Harvey, who designed the Jefferson Bridge between 1924 and 1925 and was construction supervisor when the bridge was built in 1926.

During the design process for the bridge, Harvey first built a model (including approaches) to show how the differential in grade between the higher east and lower west sides of the bridge would be accommodated. Once the design was approved, he had oversight for the construction of the bridge as well. The bridge was lighted in 1988, and, at the age of 94, Harvey threw the switch that illuminated “his” bridge. He died two years later. The lighted bridge is one of downtown Rockford’s finest attractions.

Bernard Harvey’s unselfish lifetime of service included positions as public engineer, assistant post engineer at Camp Grant, as the designer and founder of the Sanitary District, and the designer and construction supervisor for the Jefferson Street Bridge.

The re-naming ceremony will take place underneath the west end of the bridge behind the Rockford Public Library (at the west side of the pedestrian bridge that runs under the Jefferson Street Bridge). The re-naming begins at 2 p.m. with Mayor Scott officiating. A reception for family members and those attending the ceremony will be held at Cliffbreakers immediately following.

Sunday, March 6, the public is invited to an “Uncovered Treasures” reception at the Erlander Home, 404 S. Third St., beginning at 2 p.m. Recently discovered, hand-painted floral borders by Mary Erlander on the walls of a second-floor bedroom has been fully restored and will be unveiled to the public. The restoration work by Mike Cesario was made possible through private donations to the Elizabeth Harvey Memorial fund, museum funds, and a grant from the AMCORE Bank Foundation. Paint company Sherwin-Williams will be including photos of the restoration in an upcoming national publication.

An anteroom of the bedroom has also been restored using gifts from the Elizabeth Harvey Memorial Fund, which was established by the Swedish Historical Society in her memory in 2003. A reception will be held immediately after the unveiling with a Swedish “fika” (a “fika” includes coffee and finger food). Elizabeth Harvey was a longtime volunteer at the Erlander Home and was very involved in the restoration of the first floor of the museum in 1986 and 1987.

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