210 Academy Place was a gift from Judge Nathaniel C. Sears whose parents were co-principals at the Elgin Academy from 1871 to 1881. The Academy was named after Judge Sears' wife, Laura Davidson Sears, the granddaughter of James T. Gifford, Elgin's founder. Laura was also a former teacher at the Elgin Academy. The building was dedicated on June 14, 1924 by Lorado Taft and Albert Rosethal. Along with the building, Nathaniel and Laura donated an art collection consisting of works by many notable, American artists. As an educational facility, 210 Academy Place has been a significant part of the campus plan, growth, and on-going use of the Elgin Academy. Besides displaying a substantial art collection, it has been used for classes and special presentations.


Designed by Chicago architect and graduate of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Harry F. Rich, this structure represents an excellent example of Beaux-Arts style architecture. The building reflects the typical stylistic features including: bilateral symmetry; undulating planes of the primary facade; broad expanses of wall surfaces; as well as the introduction of classical design elements including fluted, Doric columns, bas-relief frieze above the portico, and a balustrade above the cornice.


Sources: 1987 Heritage Plaque Application