426 PRAIRIE STREET
In June of 1896, lot 8 in block 6 of James T. Gifford’s addition to Elgin was purchased by John Baker. Historic records indicate that prior to Baker’s purchase of this lot, it was owned by Edward C. Lovell, locally famous Lovell family and Civil War veteran.
By the 1897 Sanborn map, a dwelling is shown at 426 Prairie. In Elgin’s City Directory from the same years, Baker is listed as a builder/contractor. This likely indicates that he would have built his own home. Building your own home was not relatively common at the time, but Baker’s uncle was also the owner of a contracting business (Baker's Trade) and likely helped with the construction. Baker’s uncle’s home also resides on Prairie Street (376 Prairie Street).
It is unknown how long Baker lived at 426 Prairie Street after constructing the home in 1896.
426 Prairie was built in the Free Classic Queen Anne style as evidence by the front gable, multiple roof lines, the Palladian window, and the dentils that run along the cornice. The bay window on the front and the triangular wall of the gable on the front porch is also a reflection of this style.
Sources: 1989 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud