The lot at 156 S. Gifford Street was purchased in 1872 by Charles L. Bigsby who quickly built the Italianate home. Charles came to Elgin by way of New York state where his father was a woolen merchant. He was a mason and plastering contractor who distinguished himself by being the first contractor to give his employees a half day off on Saturdays, as was done at the Watch Factory. He and his wife Cynthia did not live at 156 S. Gifford long as they sold the property in 1878 to Benjamin Burritt, an early settler in Elgin who held numerous civil positions and accumulated much property. One of Burritt's sons was Peter who married Rebecca McBride, later known as the wealthiest woman in Elgin. Benjamin's daughter-in-law, Ellen who married his other son Josiah, lived at 156 S. Gifford for a short while until returning to her home in Waukegan. From around 1885 and onward, 156 S. Gifford was used as a rental property. Ellen passed away in 1919 and the property was sold by her heirs to George Haseman, who  shared a piano business with his brother Fred. The house then became a two flat during Haseman's ownership and remained that way until it was sold in 1946. 


156 S. Gifford is designed in the Italianate style in the front gable subtype. This subtype follows the Greek Revival style of a simple rectangular shape with a gable added to the front. The home displays round topped windows that are two over two with a broken arch window hood and are as tall as the front door. This allows for an abundance of light into the home. There are simple decoration of banding to outline the body of the house and around the windows that enhance the Italianate look. This exterior of the home underwent extensive restoration in 2008 with a complete reconstruction of the front porch to match a historic photograph.



Sources: 2003 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud