344 N. JACKSON STREET
In 1903, Patrick Gaffney warranted lots 1, 2, and 3 in the William C. Kimball’s Second Addition to his sister, Rose Russell Gaffney, who allowed Henry Washer to build a house on lot 1. In its annual report of issued building permits, the Elgin Daily Courier listed in 1904 a Henry Washer building a home on N. Jackson Street for $1,200. The house was built at the dead end of N. Jackson, north of Lawrence Avenue, where it became 344. The first Elgin City Directory to note a resident at 344 N. Jackson was in the 1905-06 edition, where Henry Washer is listed.
Washer was a German immigrant, coming to Elgin in 1873 by way of Dundee. He worked a number of jobs, one of which was as a gate tender for the railroad. Henry and his wife, Mary, lived at 344 N. Jackson together for the 14 years, from 1904 until his death in 1918.
After Henry’s passing, Mary continued to live in the home on N. Jackson until her own passing on Christmas Day of 1943. Her daughter, Minnie Washer Wing, lived with her mother and kept the house until 1972, effectively ending 68 years of ownership by the Washer family.
344 N. Jackson is an example of a simple Gable-Front home with modest Queen Anne detailing. The one and a half story house, exhibits some spindlework on the front porch indicative of the Queen Anne style. Elsewhere, its form is much more reserved, with a simple front-gabled pitched roof sitting on a rectangular frame. The Gable-Front form was popular in the mid-to-late 1800s, deriving from the Greek Revival movement.
Sources: 2002 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud