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posted: 9/4/2014 6:01 PM

Art meets history in Elgin's annual House Tour

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  • The exterior of this 1891 home is the epitome of the Queen Anne style. The interior is an eclectic blend of old house charm and new house living. The house has a personality unto itself. Peek into the old horse barn behind the house and imagine life before the automobile.

      The exterior of this 1891 home is the epitome of the Queen Anne style. The interior is an eclectic blend of old house charm and new house living. The house has a personality unto itself. Peek into the old horse barn behind the house and imagine life before the automobile.
    Photos courtesy of Gifford Park Association — 722 Douglas Avenue

  • This is a large-scale, 1920s Colonial Revival-style home. The new owner is just settling into it. He is in the middle of a carefully planned effort to rejuvenate the property while respecting its authenticity and historic character.

      This is a large-scale, 1920s Colonial Revival-style home. The new owner is just settling into it. He is in the middle of a carefully planned effort to rejuvenate the property while respecting its authenticity and historic character.
    courtesy of Gifford Park Association — 1007 Douglas Avenue

  • This 1940s Classic Revival style home was built for Joseph Spiess, one of Elgin's leading merchants. Not surprisingly, it reflects the high point of fashion and style of that decade. The interior, exterior and setting are simply elegant.

      This 1940s Classic Revival style home was built for Joseph Spiess, one of Elgin's leading merchants. Not surprisingly, it reflects the high point of fashion and style of that decade. The interior, exterior and setting are simply elegant.
    courtesy of Gifford Park Association — 126 Cooper Avenue

  • This 1881 Italianate-style residence has eye-catching curb appeal. It is home to two semiretired antique dealers whose personal collections have helped furnish the house with a comfortable and Victorian atmosphere.

      This 1881 Italianate-style residence has eye-catching curb appeal. It is home to two semiretired antique dealers whose personal collections have helped furnish the house with a comfortable and Victorian atmosphere.
    courtesy of Gifford Park Association — 514 Douglas Avenue

  • This 1923 Colonial Revival-style home offers an inviting blend of cozy living, vintage style and modern conveniences. Enjoy the backyard and garden under the broad canopy of a giant oak tree. Don't miss the children's playhouse that has been turned into potting shed.

      This 1923 Colonial Revival-style home offers an inviting blend of cozy living, vintage style and modern conveniences. Enjoy the backyard and garden under the broad canopy of a giant oak tree. Don't miss the children's playhouse that has been turned into potting shed.
    courtesy of Gifford Park Association — 721 Douglas Avenue

  • Returning to the tour for the fourth time, this 1917 home blends design elements of the Prairie style with Italian Renaissance Revival. The lavish interior holds a virtual museum of fine furniture. The sprawling gardens make this the house a wonder to see, inside and out.

      Returning to the tour for the fourth time, this 1917 home blends design elements of the Prairie style with Italian Renaissance Revival. The lavish interior holds a virtual museum of fine furniture. The sprawling gardens make this the house a wonder to see, inside and out.
    courtesy of Gifford Park Association — 940 Douglas Avenue

 
By Bill Briska
Gifford Park Association

Now in its 33rd year, the annual Historic Elgin House Tour is an opportunity to experience firsthand just a few of the reasons why Elgin was named "Best Place to Buy an Old House" in 2009 by This Old House magazine.

The tour is set for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6, and features six homes located along Elgin's prestigious Douglas Avenue. Four of the homes are featured for the first time. Two other homes return to the tour by popular demand.

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This year's selection includes three large residences on the corner of Douglas and Cooper Avenues. These homes were constructed for Elgin's business elite in the early 20th century. Located a short stroll down Douglas Avenue are the three other featured residences. These large, comfortable homes date from the 1880s to the 1920s.

This year's tour is an informative combination of architectural styles including, Italianate, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Prairie, Italian Renaissance and Classic Revival. Visitors can also tour the homes' gardens.

Houses may be toured in any order, and guides are on hand in each home to help participants more fully experience the history represented by each home.

Walking lecture

Want to learn more about the evolution of the architectural styles of homes? Join architectural historian Rebecca Hunter on an informative stroll through the featured neighborhood. She will talking about the various Revival styles.

The walking lecture, which lasts about 45 minutes, starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 6, and is repeated at 1 p.m. No interiors are toured during the walking lecture. The location for the walking tour will be listed on the house tour map.

House tour tickets

House tour tickets, with map included, are $15 in advance, or $20 the day of the event. Tickets are $10 for ages 12 and younger and seniors age 65 and older in advance and the day of the tour. Advance ticket vendors, all in Elgin, include: Jewel-Osco, 1600 Larkin Ave.; Jewel-Osco, Foods, 1038 Summit St.; Al's Café and Creamery, 43 DuPage Court; Ziegler's Ace Hardware, 215 Spring St.; and Ziegler's Ace Hardware, 1158 Lillian St. Purchase tickets online at gifford-park-assoc.org/annual-house-tour/2014-tour. Day-of-tour ticket sales will be at Sherman Center Street campus, former site of Sherman Hospital, 901 Center St., Elgin.

For more information, call (847) 421-4022.

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