The Barnes Mansion and The Manny Mansion at The Burpee Museum of Natural HistoryThe Barnes Mansion
In 1893, the Williams Fletcher Barnes house was built during a severe economic depression. It was one of the finest homes in Rockford, costing more than $30,000 at the time. A showplace with 15 rooms, a turret, two porticoes, and hand-carved solid cherry paneling in the foyer, reception area, and first floor hallway.
In 1937 Amy Lane, one of Mr. Barne's daughters, sold the building to the Rockford Park District for $12,000. The Rockford Park District set up its offices on the first floor.
The Burpee Museum opened its doors to the public in the second and third floors in 1942. Burpee expanded its occupation of the house to include the first floor and basement in 1971.
The Manny Mansion
In 1843 the land on which this old house stands was part of a 146 acre parcel purchased for $182.16 by George S. Haskell. Mr. Haskell sold a portion of the lot to Seth S. Whitman.
In 1864 John P. Manny purchased the property for $15,000 and added improvements costing an additional $15,000
In 1935 Harry Burpee, a local furniture maker and undertaker, bought the house and land for $20,000 with the intention of using the house as a funeral parlor. The neighbors objected and he decided instead to turn it into the Harry and Della Burpee Art Gallery. The Burpees never lived in the house.