165 S. Gifford Street was built for Calista Smith Waldron Slade and her second husband, Holmes Slade circa 1870. Her previous husband, Andrew Jackson Waldron, passed away in 1866. Calista and Holmes were married on September 29, 1868. The first conclusive evidence of this house is in the 1870 US census and the 1871 tax appraisal book which states that Calista was the owner. Probate records for Calista show that the appraised value of 165 S. Gifford was $13,000 including the several lots on which it was situated. 

Calista passed away on September 25, 1888 in McHenry, Illinois, where Holmes served as a pastor of the Universalist Church. Holmes had served in the same position in Elgin and according to hearsay only, he had contributed half the money necessary to build the Unitarian Church located on Villa. As a sign of his good faith, Holmes signed a statement that he would accept none of Calista's assets but that they should be passed on to her children.

Holmes was wealthy in his own right. He and his brother Stephen, children of a Quaker sea captain and a Baptist mother, came to Elgin around 1865. Their family owned a 40 acre orchard in the northern area of Elgin. In 1895, the brothers sold a portion of the land, along with the family home to the Women's Club of Elgin for the purpose of building the 1895 Sherman Hospital. 


165 S. Gifford Street is described as a Gable Front Folk house with Italianate and Gothic influences. These features alone date the house to the middle Victorian period, which was from 1860-1880. Between 2010 and 2014 a historically sensitive restoration was conducted that has created a significant impact on the home and the neighborhood. Before the restoration, exterior alterations included aluminum siding, an enclosed porch, removal of window hoods, removal of gable barge-board and an insensitive addition at the rear. 

To view more photographs of the home, please click here.



Sources: 2014 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud