162 Summit Street was built for Joseph N. Forrdrescher and his wife Katherine in 1885. Joseph N. Forrdrescher was born in Elgin on July 22, 1861. His parents, Joseph Sr and Lena Forrdrescher were German immigrants who settled in Elgin in 1849. Their other children included Amelia Miller (Charles), Christopher, and Christine Bielenberg.  Joseph Jr. worked briefly in the Watch Factory where he met his future wife, Kittie (Katherine) Needham. They married on April 19, 1883. By that time, Joseph worked for D.J. Chamberlain & Co, a clothing store located at 28 Chicago Avenue (corner of Chicago and Douglas Avenue) as a clerk.  Joseph purchased Lot E of Block 34 in 1884 from Annie Ward for $300.  In 1885, he secured a mortgage for $1000.

Joseph Forrdrescher’s fortunes were rising during this economic boom time for Elgin though. The quaint little home at 176 Summit, as the address was then, was not sufficient for the family as it grew either. So in 1891, Joseph sold the home to William H. Coffin and moved with his wife and two daughters (Hazel and Celeste) to 468 Prospect Boulevard (Now 810).  Mr. Forrdrescher is listed as the manager of JD Chamberlain’s in the 1892 City Directory and the new home was in keeping with his new position with the prominent clothing store. It is interesting to note that William Coffin was a clerk at W. Newman’s dry goods store where Joseph’s sister, Amelia worked as well.

Mr. Forrdrescher lived in Elgin all his life, dying on October 21, 1933.  At the time of his death he was the owner of Boston Clothing Store in the Nolting Block at 51 S Grove Avenue. He was described during his lifetime as having a “keen business sense” and as “genial and popular.” 

Mr. Coffin and his wife started their family at 162 Summit (renumbered in 1894) and lived there until 1912 when William died and Ella moved to 403 Douglas (as a boarder). She continued to own the home, renting it out until she sold it to Charles Brinkman.  Mr. Brinkman never lived in the home, rented it out, and sold the property in 1920 to Henry and Minnie Weidman.

The Weidman’s started their family in this home and resided there until after Henry had passed away.  Mrs. Wiedman sold the home in 1941 to Chris and Sateria Condos. At first the Condos’ also resided at 162 Summit but they converted the home to two apartments in 1947 and moved away. They were the last owners to live at the residence. 


While a simple worker’s cottage, 162 Summit does have a few architectural details that lend itself to the Italianate style of architecture.  As a front-gabled Italianate, it represents just 10% of surviving examples and is common on narrow city lots.  The front gable provides a spectacular showcase for the original gable ornament and rake ornaments. The front stoop maintains its original canopy with decorative brackets.  The triangle window hoods were restored based on the shadow marks uncovered when the substitute siding came off. There is an original diamond window with etched glass on the west side in the vestibule. The interior baseboards, window casings and door surrounds are also typical of the period.



Sources: 2011 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud