Survey & Inventory

Survey & Inventory Activities of the Rock Island Preservation Commission


A critical component of any preservation program is the historic resources survey. This compiled information provides the data needed to determine whether a property should be designated as a landmark, and it provides information about the growth and development of the community that can be used for comprehensive planning. Educational programs, such as walking tour brochures and school programs, benefit from the data generated. These surveys and inventories also provide a lasting archive of Rock Island’s resources for future scholars.

Historic Architecture Survey


More than two-thirds of Rock Island has been inventoried through a historic architecture survey. From 1984 to 1986 a team of Augustana College students, overseen by professors Mary Em Kirn and Norm Moline, surveyed more than 9,000 Rock Island buildings from the pre-1940 period. In 1998, 15 additional neighborhoods were inventoried, including some from the 1940s and 1950s. A comprehensive report about the residential inventories is available in “Rock Island’s Historic Residential Neighborhoods, 1835-1955: A Summary Report” by James E. Jacobsen. An abbreviated survey of 1950s and 1960s Rock Island subdivisions in 2009 resulted in “recent past” considerations for Rock Island’s Most Significant Unprotected Structures project.

"Windshield" Survey


The inventory begins with a “windshield” survey that documents house style and exterior features. A photograph is also taken. These survey forms are maintained in the offices of the Rock Island Planning & Redevelopment Division and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

An inventory program of historic architecture is never truly complete, especially as buildings of the recent past reach 50 years of age. The Rock Island Preservation Commission continues to add to this inventory when structures are researched for educational programs, environmental review projects and miscellaneous other reasons. The Commission also welcomes the submission of historical and architectural information relevant to historic resources in Rock Island.

Geographic Database


In addition to in-house resources at the City of Rock Island, approximately 1,000 structures are listed in the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency’s Historic Architectural and Archaeology Resources Geographic Information System (HAARGIS). The site consists of a GIS-created map that allows its viewer to search a property by address, common name, or simply by geographic location.