163 Hill Avenue was built in 1888 for Edward Artel and Bertha Metcalf. Metcalf was the part owner of Metcalf and Reed Hardware which was located on East Chicago Street. Sadly, in 1891, one month after the birth of his son and at the age of 33, Metcalf died from "La Grippe." His widow lived for a time in the house, but eventually moved to Ohio to be nearer to her parents, who had returned there. 

It was stated that 163 Hill Avenue was one of the most attractive homes built in Elgin built by Martin Bullard at a cost of $3,000. Martin Bullard was a local carpenter and builder who came to Elgin around 1875 with his family from Massachusetts. His father, Ethan Bullard, was one of the city's alderman in 1885. Martin Bullard is best known for building the McClure Mansion at 770 W. Highland Avenue in 1891 (later altered by notable Elgin architect, W. Wright Abell in 1901). 

Despite a very long list of owners and renters, 163 Hill Avenue remained well maintained. One of the boarders was Leon S. Knott. Leon's father, George Sr., temporarily lived with Leon at 163 Hill until he passed away in the home in 1917. George Sr. was a notable grocer in Elgin having operations out of his home located at 482 Park Street up until 1914. George was also a Civil War hero and is most famous for having gone down to Springfield to personally congratulate Abraham Lincoln on his presidential victory. 

The post-World War II housing shortage in Elgin probably lead to the home being divided into apartments in 1946. This change detracted from the house's splendor. The home has seen over 22 dwellers since it was built, as it was a boarding house for several decades until the late 1980's when the home became a single family residence again. 


163 Hill Avenue is an excellent example of a late Queen Anne/East Lake style farmhouse. Some architectural details found on the home include the bullseye corner blocks, decorative brackets and corbels. The Queen Anne influences include the steep roof and lower cross gables. 



Sources: 1990 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud