The home builder and his huge impact

Terry Dickow
Posted 6/4/21

I enjoy when people comment on a column. One person said I made a major omission when talking about homes in Rochelle.

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The home builder and his huge impact


I enjoy when people comment on a column. One person said I made a major omission when talking about homes in Rochelle.

Tilton Industries, started in 1937 by John W. Tilton, built over 500 homes in Rochelle. He also had subdivisions in Rockford, DeKalb, Belvidere, Mendota and Rock Falls. Product for the house was shipped out on trucks from the Rochelle facility, which in the 1950s was contributing about $1 million to the local economy.

His homes were even recognized by American Home Magazine in 1958 for the Best Home for the Money award.

I spent a few hours at the Flagg Township Museum trying to find more information, but there was not a lot about Tilton Industries that I could find. He owned one paper in town, then added the Rochelle News and later the Rochelle Leader, which created the Rochelle News-Leader you are enjoying today.

He also had companies to install plumbing, electricity and mill work, all the jobs needed to build a home.

Our first house in Rochelle was a Tilton Industries home that we moved into in 1971.

Thanks Richard H. for the reminder about this home builder and his huge impact.

Westwood subdivision

Speaking of housing, Westwood Subdivision is located west of Rochelle. For years it was pretty quiet on the building side. But in the past three years construction has boomed. 

I bet there are at least 15 new houses up  and when I rode my bike past this week a couple of lots have been cleared and one basement is started.

On my street, there have been six houses built in the past year or so.

Which makes me wonder in a state where the population is leaving, where are people coming from?

426 miles

I have a couple of  local friends training for the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa later this summer.

When I was younger, I had dreamed of doing the RAGBRAI. To be honest, I was never in good enough shape.

This year’s ride is about 426 miles long over seven days. Riding 10 miles makes parts of my anatomy start to cry!

Good luck John and Lauren. I’ll be thinking of you when you ride.

Along that line, maybe someone could sponsor a Ride Around Rochelle Illinois, or a RARI.  It could be a family-friendly one day event that loops through the various neighborhoods and sites of town.

Just a thought.

Terry Dickow can be contacted at