In May of 1891, John and Ellen Duck sold a piece of property to George W. Robinson of Elgin and Ansell K. Townsend for $1,300. When George sold his interest to the property for exactly half in 1892, Townsend quickly secured building permits to start construction on the lot.

Townsend retired from his business and moved to 61 N. Liberty Street in the late 1890s. After Townsend sold what he had built at 3 N. Liberty, a number of other renters and owners who were residents and businessmen occupied the space. One such resident was Henry Jewel who operated a grocery store on the first floor of the Chicago Street side for many years.

Other grocers include the locally well-known Jackson's Grocery, which operated from this location for a number of years.


In 1892, Townsend commissioned local architectural firm, Turnbull & Postle to design his new home at 3 N. Liberty Street.  John Fluck, local turn of the century Elgin contractor was hired for the masonry work. Situated across the street from 600 E. Chicago Street, which has a very similar design history with similar men involved in the process of its construction, this combination residential and commercial building is a combination of styles as well. It cost roughly $5,000 complete all the required building permits.

The heavily bracketed pressed tin cornice is strongly Italianate. Additional horizontal emphasis is created by two red brick belt courses at the first and second floor window hoods and by two red brick belt courses at the first floor level as well as the boxed bay window. Turned wood columns and spindle work at the Liberty Street entrance greet tenants as well as the cresting above the front entry are a nod to the Queen Anne influences present on the building.

Sources: 1992 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud