Rockford Women’s Suffrage Plaza Benches

The six colorful mosaic benches surrounding the central tower are designed to give “a sense of place” to the Rockford Women’s Suffrage Plaza. Depicted on the benches are important landmarks, celebrated landscapes, iconic structures, familiar places, and beloved features unique to Rockford. The bench tops were created by Susan Burton, working collaboratively with Womanspace artists. Uniting and flowing through all of the benches are the Rock River, the Forest City’s trees, flowers symbolic of the city’s many gardens, and images created by residents during “community build” sessions. 

The inside panels of all the benches were created by volunteers who made glass mosaic roses, sunflowers, butterflies, dragonflies, bugs, peaches, hearts and stars. Yellow roses and sunflowers are symbols of the suffragists. Pink roses represent Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, and red roses represent Sigma Alpha Iota Professional Music Fraternity.) These images were combined with the clay tiles by other volunteers. The outsides of three benches feature the text of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The outside of one bench, located near the photograph of Astronaut Janice Voss, recognizes Rockford’s aerospace industry. The outsides of the remaining two benches recognize donors to this historic project. Tiles identifying major donors, memorials and special messages form an integral part of the end-caps of this installation.

The end caps and backs of three benches contain tiles honoring donors who contributed to the Plaza. See donor page for a complete list.

Bench 1

The Lieberman sculpture “Symbol,” Sinnissippi Park, the Jefferson St. bridge, the Rockford News Tower, the Main Street District, and Supply Core.

On the inside–red roses representing the Sigma Alpha Iota music fraternity, mosaic butterflies, and bugs.  On the outside–the beginning of the text of the 19th Amendment.
Along the top and front of every bench–the Rock River flowing and trees representing the “Forest City” intermingled with the buildings.
On the end caps of each of the benches–tiles acknowledging the major supporters of our project.

Bench 2

Burpee Center at Rockford University, the Midway Village Museum Mill House.

On the inside–sunflowers symbolize the Suffragists.
On the outside–the second part of the 19th Amendment.
On one end cap–a special tile honoring Catherine Waugh McCulloch, another of the region’s prominent suffragists of the early 20th Century.

Bench 3

Womanspace Labyrinth, Jane the Dinosaur from Burpee Museum, and the YMCA Log Lodge.

On the inside panel–roses representing Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority,
On the outside–the third and final section of the 19th Amendment.

Bench 4

“Starlight Theatre” from Rock Valley College, a “Cheap Trick” Walkway, Shumway Market, the home of the Rockford Area Arts Council, and Booker T. Washington Center.

On the inside panel–yellow roses for the Suffragists.

On the outside–acknowledges Rockford’s aerospace industry with a Collins Aerospace aircraft, planets, and stars made by volunteers.

Bench 5

Beyer Stadium, home of the Rockford Peaches, Anderson Japanese Gardens, and the Rockford Park District Trolley.

On the inside–peaches and butterflies.
On the outside–tiles acknowledging supporters, along with mosaic hearts made by volunteers.

Bench 6

Memorial Hall, the Coronado Theatre, the gazebo and Native American mounds found in Beattie Park.

On the inside—sunflowers.
On the outside–donor tiles and hearts.
Bench 6’s endcaps–Elizabeth Cady Stanton, author of the “Declaration of Sentiments” of 1848 and mother of all feminists. Susan Burton, creator of the “Rockford Women’s Suffrage Plaza.”