1100 N. SPRING STREET
1100 N. Spring Street was built for Charles and Elizabeth Wetzel in 1902 for $7,000. In January of 1907, a fire destroyed the barn behind Wetzel's house, killing two horses and the family dog. Several times, the strong north wind caused the house to catch fire. Firemen worked successfully to save the house. It was thought that a small stove, intended to heat the building, had overheated and caused the fire which destroyed not only the animals, but carriages, a sleigh, harness, hay and grain.
Charles was the district manager of the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York. He also held office in several companies associated with minerals, oil and gas. In 1908, Wetzel sold 1100 N. Spring Street to Delmont Wood, president of the Elgin National Bank. Wood lived on S. State Street, along "Millionaires Row." His son, Frank, was given the home and lived there for 16 years and also worked in the bank. Frank was a colorful person, going by the nickname "Tootie," who pushed the envelope when it came to automobiles. Tootie embraced the automobile upon its debut in the early years of the 20th century and became a charter member of the Elgin Automobile Club in 1904. When he was married in 1905, where else to go for a honeymoon than on an auto trip!In the 1920's, Tootie departed Elgin to work in the automotive instruments business, eventually retiring in Florida.
1100 N. Spring Street was sold from Delmont Wood's estate to Dr. Frederick Gies, an osteopath, in 1924. 6 years later, at the beginning of the Great Depression, foreclosure proceedings were initiated against Dr. Gies. The home sat vacant from then until 1939, except for one quick renter.
In 1939, Gordon and Luella Aley occupied the house and finally bought it in 1941. Gordon Aley was a salesman for the Van Platten Fox Lumber Company in Chicago. For the second time, tragedy befell 1100 N. Spring. The house had been struck by lightning and burned early in 1941, requiring extensive remodeling. The Colonial Revival style was retained, though its appearance altered from the original 1902 design. In 1942, the Elgin Real Estate Board sponsored a building improvement contest for projects completed in 1941 to encourage Elgin citizens to upgrade their homes to make Elgin more livable. In Class V, best remodeled single family dwelling, 1100 N. Spring Street was the winner!
The Aleys kept the home for 28 years. For the third and final time, bad luck cursed the house -- while the Aleys were on vacation in Florida in February 1949, thieves broke into the home and made off with their possessions.
1100 N. Spring Street is of the Colonial Revival style. This style was a repeat of the English and Dutch styles that appeared on the East coast in the 1700s and is marked by a centered front door with symmetrically balanced windows on either side, multi-paned windows, individual window dormers in the upper level, and a side gabled roof.
When comparing the 1902 house to the 1941 remodel, the 1902 house shows a gambrel roofed center gable flanked on either side by a dingle window dormers with a gabled roof while the 1941 remodel removed the center gable and replaced it with a third single window dormer with a gabled roof. The 1902 house also shows a squared bay on the south side while the 1941 remodel shows the bay enclosed and part of the attached garage. In addition, the 1902 house shows a full width front porch with double columned porch supports with full width balustrade at the roof line while the 1941 remodel shows columns replaced with heavier, single columns.
Sources: 2003 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud