158 HARDING STREET
In 1887, Francis C. Fedou purchased a parcel of land on the corner of Harding and Ryerson on the west side of Elgin. By 1889 he had built his home on the property, with the Elgin Daily Courier noting the new home in their annual reporting of new construction. They reported that home cost $4,500. The 1889-90 Elgin City Directory is the first to list Fedou as the owner living at the home.
Francis came to Elgin by way of Chicago and Baltimore, with his family lineage extending to France and Ireland. Born an only child to wealthy parents, who hoped that Francis would grow up to serve in the ministry at his mother’s church. Instead, Francis moved to Chicago in 1878 and Elgin in 1886.
After moving to Elgin Francis started the Spring Valley Coal Company, serving only Elgin and Aurora. Good business fortune led to good personal fortune when in 1881 Francis married Elizabeth Eaton. They had two children, Helen and Robert, born in 1882 and 1885 respectively.
Francis died in 1926, but not before watching his son rise to prominence in the Newspaper world, becoming advertising director of the Elgin Courier News and later the advertising manager for the Elgin Daily News. Their daughter, Helen, resided in 158 Harding until her death in 1948.
158 Harding is an example of the Queen Anne style. Advances in industrialization made it easier to construct homes made with a variety of materials in a variety of ornamental features. This particular home has a number of the features common to the Queen Anne style including its asymmetry; the wrap around porch; the classic white columns on the porch; and the bay windows on the first and second story.
Sources: 2002 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud