16 N. Liberty Street was built in 1890 by local contractor John A. Wright for Joseph and Anna Child at a cost of $3,000. Joseph was an employee of the Elgin National Watch Factory. They lived in the home for 10 years until selling it to Charles Nelson. Nelson operated a grocery store on Chicago Street. The home remained in the Nelson family for 76 years. 

The contractor, John Wright, was born in Muskegon County, Michigan in 1857 and immigrated with his family to Elgin in 1860. His father, Joseph, was a wood turner by profession. John learned the carpenter's trade with Smith Hoag and and then later with Russell & Kirkpatrick. By 1886, he was self-employed. In 1903, he partnered with H. F. Foster and was the builder for all but one of the fire stations in Elgin. He also built several residences including the Peck Block. John married Miss F. Ella Gardner of Chicago in 1880 and had one son and daughter. The Wrights resided at 62 Walnut Avenue (now known as 30 National Street). 


16 N. Liberty Street is considered a restrained late Victorian home with Queen Anne and Eastlake detailing. Note the massing, porch detail, project second floor, strong gable roof and palladian window. Some other details include the varied siding from the first and second floor, the sunburst motif and turned spindles reflecting Eastlake characteristics as well as the decorative fascia board.



Sources: 1987 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud