1 TANGLEWOOD LANE
The property at 1 Tanglewood Lane was bought by Ralph W. Crocker in 1939 with plans to build an English type dwelling designed by Chicago architect, Charles Patterson and built by Walter Fay. Ralph and his wife, Marie, built the home in 1941 for a cost between $20,000 - $ 30,000. Ralph Crocker was the son of Elgin builder Rienzi Crocker and Marie was the daughter of Charles Kerber, founder of Kerber Packing Company.
Ralph was president of Elgin High School Class of 1899 and in 1910, was secretary-treasurer of the Elgin Silver Plate Company. In the years preceding WWI, Ralph was the manager of the Star Theater at 100-102 S. Grove Avenue, a live entertainment venue. Motion pictures became popular in the years after the war when people were more open to change and innovation and prosperity swept the nation. In the early '20s, Ralph Crocker left the star and opened the Crocker Theater next to start in September of 1923.
The Crocker Theater was designed by notable Elgin architect, W. W. Abell and was built to be fireproof, a popular method of construction in that era. It was made of concrete and steel with the latest in ventilating systems and had a capacity of 1,600 people! The orchestra contained a pipe organ and seats in the theater were designed so that no one's views were obstructed. Doors of gold finish gave access to a lounge, aisles were carpeted to reduce noise and walls were done in soft colors. After operating the Crocker Theater for a number of years, Crocker leased it to Great State Theaters and moved on. He worked in the administrative end of the Kerber Packing Company until he retired. Ralph passed away in 1960 at the age of 76 years old.
Emerson Crocker, son of Ralph and Marie, was also president of his High School Class, graduating in 1928. He graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and attended the Yale Drama School. His lifelong career included directing plays in the Elgin area for the Little Theater and Valley Summer Players; working at MGM and Universal Studios in Hollywood; working with Charles Laughton and Orson Welles where he wrote, directed, and produced plays with Welles; and wrote scripts for popular radio shows in New York City.
Alice Crocker, Ralph and Marie's daughter, moved to New York City. She returned to Elgin yearly to her family's home. Apparently neither Emerson nor Alice married or had children. Upon Emerson's passing in 1971, Alice was the sole heir of the Crocker estate, worth over $500,000. In 1977, Tanglewood was sold from a trust to the owners of the Artistic Carton Company who kept the home until 2003.
1 Tanglewood Lane is considered of a Colonial Revival Ranch. Details found on homes of this era are usually minimal and the use of shutters and porch supports in the colonial style were common. The main body of the one story house is brick, has a side gabled roof, and has a wing on either end not clad in brick. Ribbon windows are used throughout the house and in the main body in vertical stacks, contributing to its horizontality. The front entry porch in the main body is recessed, has flattened arches with plain supports and contains the front door balances with windows on either side. The side gabled roof and the entry porch are evocative of the Neoclassical style. Shutters, original to the house, add decorative detail to all three sections of the house. Although two wide chimneys are seen on the exterior, the north one is a dummy, built to balance the other.
Sources: 2003 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud