Rock Island Industrial Home Association
The Rock Island Industrial Home Association was formed at a mass-meeting of the members of the labor unions of the City, headed by the Knights of Labor, held in December, 1887. The branches of organized labor represented in the association, in the beginning, included Knights of Labor, printers, glass-blowers, tailors, iron molders, cigar makers, carpenters, switchmen and locomotive firemen. The first efforts of the association were turned toward the raising of a fund with which to purchase a lot and erect a home for labor. To do this an annual fair was instituted. The first one was held in February, 1889, and $2,200 cleared. In the Fall a picnic netted another substantial sum. The Labor Day picnics now take the place of the original affairs; being held alternately in the three cities, Rock Island, Moline and Davenport, under the auspices of the three Industrial Home Associations. The first meetings were held at Norris Hall; Hillier’s Hall being later used as headquarters for a period of five years before the home was opened in 1896. The first property the association purchased was a lot at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Twentieth Street. This was sold when the present site for the home was purchased, at the corner of Third Avenue and Twenty-first Street. The erection of the home was accomplished in 1894, and was taken possession of in 1896 -it being a handsome three-story brick building, with two large stores on the ground floor, offices and halls for meeting places for the labor organizations on the second floor, and a large hall on the third floor. Its cost was $28,000. The financial affairs of the association are in the hands of T. H. Thomas, who has acted as agent, with power of attorney, since the building was erected. The present indebtedness is $7,000, with $3,000 more needed to complete the building in accordance with the original plans. These include the installing of a library, gymnasium, bath rooms and everything in fact to make it a complete home, or club house, for the use of laboring men.
Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908