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This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Old Illinois Houses

John Drury

reprinted by
The University of Chicago Press
Chicago and London, 1977

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

[image ALT: A photograph of a two‑story rectangular brick house, with a gabled roof pitched at about 40° and two chimneys; it is partly overgrown with roses or ivy. The front door is arched with a fanlight. It is the Sanford House in Rockford, Illinois.]


Goodyear Asa Sanford House, Rockford, Built 1847.

 p196  "Indian Terrace"

When, several decades ago, the century-old Sanford residence in Rockford was acquired by a prominent business and civic leader of that city, Mr. Ralph Hinchliff, a corps of workmen and skilled artisans immediately went to work on a restoration of the house and the wide lawns around it. Today, the quaint old Sanford home, with its board-and‑batten siding, its windowed cupola, its fanciful eave brackets, and other details of nineteenth century architecture, is an outstanding historic show place, widely known as "Indian Terrace." Because of its authentic mid-Victorian atmosphere, both outside and inside, Indian Terrace is attracting the attention of an ever-growing number of historical and architectural students, as well as "period" decorators and antiquarians. Members of the Illinois State Historical Society, at their forty-eighth annual meeting in Rockford, foregathered at Indian Terrace and heard the story of this venerable landmark of northern Illinois.

As Indian Terrace, however, is the private home of Mr. & Mrs. Hinchliff, it has none of the discomforts, the stuffiness, and overcrowding usually associated with mid-Victorian interiors. Here, Mr. & Mrs. Hinchliff, both of whom are historically minded, with a fine perception of artistic requirements, have created an atmosphere of the past without losing any of the comforts of the present. As those who know agree, this is the secret of successful old-house restoration. In this picturesque mansion, then, the Hinchliffs can, and do, continue the traditions of hospitality and gracious living introduced here a century ago by the builder of the house, Goodyear Asa Sanford.

It has been definitely ascertained that Goodyear Sanford built this home — now located at 505 North Main Street — in 1847. The site on which it was constructed was a sizable tract of land that Sanford and his cousin, Worcester A. Dickerman, had acquired and which included an ancient Indian mound. This latter gave rise to the present name of "Indian Terrace." When their home was completed, Mr. & Mrs. Sanford immediately gave it an atmosphere of generous hospitality by staging an elaborate house-warming party, climaxes by a magnificent dinner. Thus was begun a tradition of hospitality in the Sanford residence that continues to the present time. Here, too, the Sanfords early fostered cultural activities, the city's first literary circle, the Monday Group, having been formed in this house in 1877 by the second Mrs. Sanford. In addition, Goodyear Sanford devoted much time to his two hobbies — animal pets and flower gardens.

 p197  When Mr. & Mrs. Hinchliff obtained the old Sanford residence, they installed in its many rooms their collections of art objects, antiques, and mementos gathered over the years in all quarters of the globe. The result, however, is not a museum. Each room is comfortable and livable. A descendant of the Harlan family of colonial Virginia, and of the Cox family, members of which were prominent in the early history of Kentucky, Mrs. Hinchliff possesses many prized family heirlooms, as does Mr. Hinchliff of his ancestors who came over on the Mayflower.

But Indian Terrace is more than just a restored mid-Victorian mansion. It is situated in the midst of an attractively landscaped estate, shaded by numerous old maples, elms, and catalpas. Old brick walks, bordered by tulips and other flowers, connect the various outbuildings — the quaint guest house, the greenhouses, and the garage. On the basis of a century-old garden plan, drawn by Goodyear Sanford's old Scotch gardener, Mr. Hinchliff was able to restore the "congress boot" design of the Sanford garden and to rebuild the curious serpentine wall along one side of it.

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Page updated: 11 Dec 07