By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD – A Rockford building that was once a nationally known entertainment venue is now owned by a local developer who says it could once again be a downtown attraction.
Urban Equity Properties purchased the former Charlotte’s Web for the Performing Arts, 728 First Ave., Friday, Sept. 21.
“This is a building with a lot of Rockford history, especially the performing arts, and we are excited that we have the opportunity to save it,” UEP President Justin Fern said.
Built as a Swedish church in 1876, the building was later a synagogue for Rockford’s first Jewish congregation. Bill and the late Karen Howard turned it into Charlotte’s Web in 1972.
For nearly 20 years, “The Web” held performances by a long list of notables including Buddy Rich, Dizzy Gillespie, KoKo Taylor and Annie Lennox to name a few.
Renowned play director J.R. Sullivan and a group of actors from Beloit College launched New American Theater (NAT) at Charlotte’s Web in summer 1972 and stayed for two years.
The building closed in the ’80s. It has since been maintained by a private owner.
“It has a lot of potential to be remade into a performing arts space,” Fern said.
The building is adjacent to the Midway Theater, which faces E. State Street, across from the Faust Hotel. R.