420 MOUNTAIN STREET
Located in the W.C. Kimball’s Plat of West Elgin, 418-420 Mountain was built in 1870 and marks the city of Elgin’s westward expansion across the Fox River near the turn of the 19th century. As the City of Elgin grew, it expanded west across the Fox River. Over the years areas in the western area of Elgin, that were once solely areas for farming, became more densely populated by residents.
One such resident was Benjamin Cox. Cox was born in New Hampshire and married Susan Bell in July of 1841. She passed away in 1884, but not before raising four children together. Cox then remarried in 1884 to Esther Marsh.
Benjamin appears to have held a number of jobs in his lifetime. In some Census records, he is marked as a shoemaker, and in his death record, his is listed as a retired farmer. He even shows up in the 1874 edition of the Report of the Commissioner of Agriculture, discussing his preferred milk stirring practices while working for the Illinois Condensing Company. State of Illinois documents show that he signed the roll in 1861 to be a part of Illinois’ Civil War Militia.
Benjamin and Esther lived on Mountain Street until at least his passing in 1901, but it is unclear if Esther stayed in the home after his death, or who moved into the home after the Cox family sold the property.
420 Mountain Street is a nice example of an Italianate Style. Character defining features of the style include the low-pitched roof, semi-wide overhanging eaves exhibiting decorative brackets, and tall, narrow windows with window crowns. The asymmetrical, L-shaped floor plan is a common sub-type of the style, and another touch of the Italianate style can be seen on the bay window on the side elevation of the home.
A 1993 building survey of the area indicates that this home has a significant architectural importance in the context of the history of the neighborhood.
Sources: 1991 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud