361 DOUGLAS AVENUE
On the 1891 Sanborn map, there is a home with the address 219 Douglas listed as in the process of being built. In the 1892 edition of the City Directory shows a Samuel Christie as the owner of the property, with a Robert Fitz listed as the renter. When the city re-aligned its addressing system for the final time in 1894, 219 became 361 Douglas, the address it is known as today. By 1898, Fitz was listed as the owner.
Fitz was the manager of the Elgin American Gas Company and married Marie Wilcox in 1892. Marie's father was John S. Wilcox, a judge, lawyer and Civil War veteran who was an extremely well-connected Elginite. It could be inferred that Colonel Wilcox -- as he liked to be called -- bought the home as a wedding gift for his newly married daughter and son-in-law.
In 1902, Fitz sold the home to Letitia Hunter, a widower. She lived alone in 361 Douglas and was the last occupant to reside in the home before it became a 2-unit apartment house. Hunter died in 1920 and the house stayed with her family until they finally sold the apartments off in 1940.
361 Douglas Avenue is listed in the National Register nomination for the Spring-Douglas Historic District as contributing to the historic significance of the district. Like many other homes built in the late 1800s, 361 is of the Queen Anne style but with some differences that place it into the Free Classic sub-type. Free Classic Queen Anne's still follow the Victorian rejection of plainness, but avoid indulging in heavy uses of ornamentation like spindlework.
The three small, front facing gables are a way to emphasize the height of the structure, while the gable face leaves space for some scalloped shingles for decoration. Additionally, the center front gable that stands higher than the rest matches one seen at the home of Colonel Wilcox's house, the father-in-law of the first owner. A horizontal band of scalloped singles separate the first from the second floor. The front facing gable that projects over the bay window is another element of the Free Classic Queen Anne style.
Sources: 2003 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud