Hello Palmwood Neighbors!
Palmwood vs. Westchester by Upton Rehnberg
Once upon a time there was a man named Frank Palm who owned a farm east of Rockford, Illinois. The town was growing toward his farm and so he decided to turn the oak and hickory woods area of his property into a residential area. So, he subdivided part of his property and created the Palm’s Woods Subdivision—back about 1924. Running through the middle of the small subdivision was Palm Avenue.
My Father, Axel F. Rehnberg, wanted to build himself a new house and was shopping for a lot to build on. He came and took a look at the lots in Palm.s Woods. He once told me that at that the time the lots and the street were surveyed and staked out, but the street was not yet constructed. To look at the lots he had to climb over a barbed wire fence and walk through the woods. He decided to buy Lot No. 3, which subsequently became known as 212 Palm Avenue. Axel’s name for his home was Palmwood. He built himself a house and he and his family took up residence in 1925.
Over the years more and more houses were built and Palm Avenue was extended north to and beyond Rural Avenue. In the 1950’s something strange happened. My Father, and the other residents of Palm Avenue, received a notice from the US Post Office than the name of their street had been changed to Westchester Drive, and they should notify everyone who sent them mail of the name change. How could this have happened?
Well, it turned out that a group of people who lived on the north end of Palm Avenue didn’t like the name of the street. According to my Father, this group was led by a man by the name of Kane Corbridge who lived on Palm next to Highland Park. My father’s opinion was that Palm Avenue wasn’t snooty enough a name for that group of people. I’m suspect they would not have described it that way.
Corbridge had apparently led a group who circulated a petition asking the City Council to change the name of the street. But not one person who lived in the 100 through 300 blocks of Palm Avenue was approached to sign the petition. No one even knew it was happening. The petition went forward to the City Council. There was no apparent opposition and the City Council passed a resolution to change the street name. The Post Office was notified and they reacted with the letter which informed residents that they no longer lived on Palm Avenue.
My Father was upset. He had lived on Palm Avenue for over 25 years and he wanted to continue to live on Palm Avenue. It had historic significance as the core street of Palm’s Woods Subdivision. The street starts at East State Street and runs north with a S-curve at Crosby Street where the street jogs slightly to the west. A new petition was circulated which asked that the portion of the street comprising the 100 through 300 blocks, from State to Crosby, should be restored to the name .Palm Avenue.. After due deliberation, the original name was restored. Today at the corner of East State Street and Palm Avenue there are two street name signs. One says “Palm Avenue” – the other “Westchester Drive =>”. Follow the arrow to find Westchester Drive.
This whole argument over the name has a very interesting current side. A group of citizens formed a neighborhood group to discuss security and other “neighborhood” issues. Elizabeth Hand, who lives on Westchester, became a very active member of this organization. After deciding to organize a group, one of the early issues was the question of a name. Mrs. Hand explained, in an email, how the Palmwood Neighborhood Association came to be named.
We want everyone to know about our group and get as many people involved as possible. We came up with some great ideas last meeting for how to proceed and our first item was a name. When I went back to the deed on my home, I saw our neighborhood is called Palmwood, so we thought that would be a fitting name, and the folks who live on Palm really liked it :).
Welcome to Palmwood.