380 N. WORTH AVENUE
380 N. Worth Avenue was built for Manley R. and Kate Harris in 1924 for $5,000. Manley planted his roots firmly in this house, living there until the day he died in 1962. His widow, Kate, stayed in the house another 10 years before selling it. Manley and Kate had no children and the house passed through a succession of six owners over the next 30 years.
Mr. Shirley Harris started a boat livery on the Fox River in 1894, carrying passengers by steamboat on outings to Trout Park. This was the means of travel in the days before the interurban train ran out that way. In 1907, Manley's father and William Geister launched the "Thelma." The boat house was on the east bank of the Fox River on the north side of Kimball Street. Manley first worked as a plumber and then joined his father's boat livery, finally taking it over. The boathouse offered more than an aquatic way to get to one's favorite picnic spots; it was called the Fox River Barbecue Tavern and offered food and drink. The boat livery gave way to the interurban train but Manley's Fox Barbecue Tavern took on the same solid spirit of Manley Harris: it stayed on.
Manley's brother, Fred, joined him in operating the Fox Barbecue. In 1947, there was a disagreement between Manley and the W. R. Meadows Company, his neighbor to the east. Meadows' trucks routinely drove over his property to get to the company and he put up a barricade to prevent the trucks' passage. The dispute was settled amicably by attorneys representing both parties when the city engineer researched old city records and found that the trucks were using what was once Race Street, filled in and long forgotten. A pond and swamp called the "Dipper" occupied the land north of Kimball Street and east of the bridge; it was filled in and lots sold off but Race Street was not improved nor surveyed and then everyone forgot about it!
In 1967, the business was sold to Elroy Kruse, who renamed it Kruse's Fox Barbecue Tavern. Old timers still around today know Manley's Fox Barbecue Tavern as "The Boathouse;" gone, but not forgotten.
Post WWI America was a social, economic, and cultural turning point: the Victorian era was over and a new age of prosperity was beginning. By the mid 20s, home ownership had steadily increased. Construction reports were published in the local newspapers weekly. Included in the reports was something new: garages, a reflection of the era's prosperity. By 1928, the building boom began to slow and the stock market crash of 1929 brought it to a dead halt. It was in the middle of the prosperous '20s that Manley Harris joined his middle class peers in building his own home.
380 N. Worth compares favorably to the Craftsman style with its low pitched front gabled roof, front gabled dormer, sets of three windows in the facades, the inset front porch and horizontal lines. The simplicity of the exterior belies the richness of the interior, which is filled with abundant original features.
Besides the bungalow being well cared for by its various owners, the grounds have been well kept over the years. In 2001, the backyard was replaced with a garden brimming with color and interest. It was a featured garden on the 2002 Treasured Gardens of Elgin walk.
Sources: 2003 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud