409 DOUGLAS AVENUE
Built in 1892 for John T. and Hattie Jencks, 409 Douglas Avenue was one of many Elgin buildings designed by William Wright (W. W.) Abell, famous for his work on the Teeple Barn. The Elgin Daily Courier News in December of 1892 published a review of construction in Elgin that year and noted the works of W. W. Abell, writing, "W W Abell...has planned for ... J T Jencks" and "Leon St. Peter built for John Jencks, Douglas Avenue, handsome residence, $4,500."
John was a partner in the insurance business as well as owning both a shoe and drugstore business. Prior to moving to Elgin, he was a conductor on the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad (C&N RR). After his first wife Hattie died in 1896, he lived alone until remarrying in 1897 to Cora Hammond. The two resided together in 409 Douglas until moving to Chicago in 1919.
Upon their move to Chicago, the Jencks sold 409 Douglas to St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church Society. The house served as the parsonage for the church until 1947 when it was again sold to Fred and Amanda Thies. The house stayed in the possession of the Thies family until 1996.
409 Douglas Avenue is listed as a contributing structure for the Spring-Douglas Historic District. It is an excellent example of the Queen Anne style highly popular in the last decades of the 19th century. Distinguishing characteristics of the Queen Anne style seen in 409 Douglas include the following: the vertical and horizontal ornamental banding used to outline the house, the front facing gable with a cross gable behind and a hipped roof containing a dormer in its rear plane. Additionally, the spindlework on the porch is a notable feature of this style, as well as the asymmetrical facade and the use of multiple roof lines. Ornamentation was a key contributor to many Victorian-era Queen Anne homes, and the use of many colors on 409 is an pointed example of how color can be used to highlight such details.
Sources: 2008 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud