15 N. Porter Street was built in 1888 for Charles T. Van Gorder. Charles was the son of Daniel and Laura (Welton) Van Gorder, both natives of New York. Daniel worked as a foreman on the Erie Canal, and came west to Chicago in 1857. Later he and his family settled in Elgin, where he was a contractor with the railroads. 

Charles was a "job printer" and co-owner of the Elgin Daily-News in the late 1870s. He married Hannah Bundy. Their daughter, Lou, came to marry A. M. Price, the inventor of a gum wrapper patent that was sold to the Wrigley family! Charles purchased this lot at 15 N. Porter in May of 1888 for $900. The contractor who built the home and the barn was Marin Bullard and the masonry work was completed by Andrew Magnus. The building permit was issued for $3,300. 

A bell system was built into the house for paging the live-in maid, Nettie Brink. It was said that Nettie was a pleasant, capable friend of the family who later moved on to a job on Chicago's north shore and eventually married a millionaire!

The Van Gorders lived in the home for 18 years until selling the home to Albert H. Higinbotham for $4,350. Higinbotham was a banker at the Northern Trust Company and made the commute to Chicago each day. The Higinbotham family owned the home for 76 years.


15 N. Porter was built in the Stick Style. The home is asymmetrical in plan and has a variety of siding including narrow and wide clapboard and square cut and polygonal shingles in the eaves. Decorative bargeboards highlight the gable eaves. Decorative brackets support the bay window on the north facade. The southwest corner has an expressive diagonal bay containing stained glass, a roof supported by paired brackets as well as pilasters. The front porch is not original to the house as it was enlarged and reflects a Prairie Style influence. 



Sources: 1994 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud