Located 40 miles from downtown Chicago, Elgin is one of the most populous municipalities in the state. As an old home student, I have always loved exploring the six historic districts where history comes alive and rules preservation today. Shredding isn’t really a thing here. Instead, beautiful old Victorian and other residential styles are restored by giving the city and celebrating it with plaques and special awards. The owners are very proud of their historic buildings. While Elgin has plenty of new single-family homes—particularly west of the Fox River—the city has worked hard over the past few decades to bring back its once thriving business district. The best part is that Elgin is totally affordable for anyone interested in living here. We may have destroyed the overweight housing market, but you’ll see good value in the following properties for sale.
In late 1893, the Elgin Daily Courier reported that local architect Smith Hogg had been paid $10,000 to design a “typical modern residence” for the original owner, prominent banker Alfred Bosworth, whose family continued to live in a Queen Anne-style mansion for 50 years. A board member of the World’s Columbian Exposition, Bosworth recovered many items from the Exposition, including smoldering birch wood from South America. (The home’s woodwork also includes oak, walnut, bird’s eye maple, and sycamore.) Other great interior items like six fireplaces, pocket doors, and stained-glass windows. This seven-bedroom, four-bathroom property is one of the most iconic landmarks in all of town, for the first time in 25 years. This is a great opportunity to convert it into a single family home (the third floor is a legal three bedroom apartment).
This beautiful home hit the market in early May – for the first time in over 20 years. Designed by local architect George E. Morris for the original owners of Clarence and Emma Chappelle in 1909, the interior of this American brick Foursquare contains many vintage details associated with the famous prairie style. The four-bedroom, four-bathroom home has been carefully preserved from art glass and wood trim to ornate light fixtures and built-in cupboards. While the kitchen and bathrooms have been updated, they fit right in with the rest of the historic home’s designs.
For more than a century, Elgin has been known as the world’s largest watch manufacturer. But other factories were located in the city, including those in the pre-1891 Classical Revival design by local architect W.W. Wright. It was originally the Congdon Avenue Shoe Factory, followed by the Selz-Schwab Shoe Company, and others. But in 1999 it was converted into residential lofts. The three-bedroom, three-bathroom corner unit has south and west exposures, helping to bring light into the enchanting space. Like a typical loft, there are exposed brick walls, ductwork, wood floors, and 16-foot ceilings.
Elgin owns one of the largest collections of Sears kit homes in the state, with over 200 fully documented by architectural historian Rebecca Hunter. Among her discoveries was a 1927 Elsmore model designed for its first owner, shoe seller, Herman F. Wynhoff. This particular design was very popular with home buyers due to its low cost, large porch, and simple floor plan. On the market for $214,900, this gorgeous two-bedroom, two-bath family residence is full of character and charm.
Although the Elgin Center may seem like a time capsule, you can still find some properties that were actually built in the 21st century. River Park Place, a group of 116 three-story brick homes, was added in 2005 to the revitalized downtown area. It is next to the Fox River Trail and close to Festival Park and the Grand Victoria Casino – land that was vacant until the 1990s. At nearly 2,000 square feet, the Brookstone Model contains one of the largest floor plans in the subdivision. It comes with two bedrooms (you can easily convert the basement to another bedroom) and three bathrooms, along with a two-story rooftop deck.