The Rosecrance Story

Rosecrance Memorial Home For Children old building










Rosecrance Memorial Home for Children

The Rosecrance story shows how this remarkable, caring organization grew and matured over time so it could continue meeting people’s changing needs. It began as the dream of Dr. James and Fannie Rosecrance who wanted to provide a home for a small number of orphan boys.

The couple left provisions in their wills to establish an orphanage and, when Fannie Rosecrance died in 1916, their home in New Milford became the Rosecrance Memorial Home for Children.

The orphanage remained at that site for 55 years until the Rosecrance Board of Directors purchased farmland on Alpine Road in Rockford and built a new campus there.

old Image of Rosecrance home










Rosecrance on Alpine

Serving many mental health needs

Orphans weren’t the only ones in the Rockford area to need help, however. By 1947, local leaders realized that veterans returning from World War II were dealing with a variety of challenges, sometimes including mental health disorders. Recognizing a need, they decided to form the Winnebago County Mental Hygiene Society to serve those returning from active duty.

The Society’s clientele expanded dramatically during the 1960s. At that time, many thousands of individuals with serious mental illness were released from institutions. When they returned to their home communities, they needed help, specifically outpatient services. The county agency soon became known for providing quality care to chronically ill indigent and low-income residents who could not find treatment elsewhere.

One of its most dedicated supporters was a civic volunteer named Janet Wattles. She was so committed to the work that the board decided to rename the agency in her honor. And so, around the same time that Rosecrance moved to Alpine Road, the agency became known as the Janet Wattles Center.

At the same time that the Mental Hygiene Society was evolving into its new form, the foster care system was also changing in the late 1960s and 1970s. Rosecrance had started serving children with behavior disorders and, by 1982, Rosecrance had formally changed its mission to offer adolescent addiction treatment. The Rosecrance Center, which was initially licensed for 20 inpatient beds, was the first chemical dependency treatment center for adolescents in Northern Illinois.

Rosecrance expanded its offering in 1992 when it began treating adults at the 32-bed Evergreen Recovery Center in downtown Rockford. Three years later, the organization closed Evergreen and opened a new 72-bed treatment center on Harrison Avenue in Rockford to better serve the adult population. The campus has been expanded and renovated twice since, and it now has an inpatient capacity of 98.

In 1997 Rosecrance inaugurated its long-term teen recovery homes program, one of the few such programs in the nation. Boys are treated at Hillman House. Girls are served at Marlowe House in the only licensed program of its kind for girls in the State of Illinois.

The progress continued into the new millennium when, in August 2004, Rosecrance opened a new $14 million, 78-bed campus to serve youth on University Drive in Rockford—The Griffin Williamson Adolescent Treatment Center. This facility has become the largest inpatient treatment program in the state, serving young people through prevention and outpatient services and by providing recovery homes for teens.

Rosecrance also operates Greendale House, a transitional housing program for women with young children which also treats single men and women. This innovative program is another example of the many ways that Rosecrance continues to enhance services for children, adolescents, adults and families.

Creating synergies in mental health services

By 2010, it had become clear that Rosecrance and the Janet Wattles Center had similar, somewhat parallel missions. Over the years, the Wattles Center had grown to become the region’s largest provider of community mental health services. Meanwhile, Rosecrance had expanded and diversified in many ways, and was now providing addiction treatment to both youth and adults. The agencies decided to work together to provide services for a growing number of individuals with co-occurring disorders who need both mental health and addiction treatment.

The two organizations officially merged on September 1, 2011, forming the state’s most extensive and comprehensive provider of mental health services.

Most inpatient addiction treatment services are provided at two large facilities in Rockford, Illinois: the Harrison Campus for adults and the Griffin Williamson Campus for adolescents. Rosecrance also has local offices in the Chicago area

Most of our outpatient mental health services are provided at the Ware Center in downtown Rockford, serving the adult population; and at the Berry Campus, which offers programming for children with emotional disorders and their families.

The Ware Center was named for the longtime president/CEO Frank Holmes Ware. The Berry Campus honors renowned speech pathologist and children’s advocate Mildred Berry.

Historically, the common goal of both Rosecrance and the Janet Wattles Center has been to provide the highest quality, evidence-based treatment to the people they serve. Today, the organizations’ joint mission is to provide help, hope and recovery to children, youth, adults and families.

Rosecrance continues to expand

Rosecrance has continued to grow across the Midwest, opening offices in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago, McHenry County in Illinois, and even spreading to other states such as Iowa and Wisconsin.

In recent years, Rosecrance merged with two organizations in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. The first merger took place in July of 2016 with an organization called Community Elements. It was the first step toward expanding substance abuse treatment services and creating an integrated mental health system of care in Champaign-Urbana. The second merger took place in January of 2018 with an organization called Prairie Center.  This continued to expand the substance abuse treatment services in the region.

Rosecrance also announced an affiliation with Jackson Recovery Centers in January of 2019. Jackson Recovery Centers was established in 1976 by Dr. W.L. Jackson and his wife Marienne. It is the largest not-for profit addiction treatment program in the state of Iowa. In September of 2019, Jackson Recovery Centers became Rosecrance Jackson Centers. Rosecrance Jackson provides a full continuum of care to more than 4,000 children, adolescents and adults per year and is accredited by Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).

The next expansion came in late 2020 when Rosecrance acquired Connections Counseling in Madison, Wisconsin. Established in 2003, Connections Counseling is Dane County’s largest behavioral health outpatient clinic. The two organizations had worked together since 2003 to operate the area’s first transcranial magnetic stimulation clinic.

Rosecrance has touched countless lives in the past century. Strong leadership and solid community support will carry that mission for the next 100 years.

All Rosecrance programs are fully accredited by The Joint Commission and licensed by the Illinois Department of Human Services.