434 E. CHICAGO STREET
In January 1880, Jane Crichton McNeil bought part of lot 3 of I. S. Bartlett’s Subdivision. Lot 3 became part of E. M. Bartlett’s Addition and was then renamed lot 2 of E.M. Bartlett’s Addition.
Jane Crichton McNeil immigrated to the United States from Scotland, with her son and daughter becoming well known in the Elgin community. Additionally, her son, John, built the home at 162 S. State Street. Jane married, for the second time, Abraham Archibald and together had a son, Robert. Abraham and Jane resided together in the home only three years until she passed away in 1893.
Robert Archibald inherited the house in 1897, an act that did not bode well with his half-siblings. Robert’s half-brothers filed lawsuits against him, prompting Robert to flee westward in an effort to flee his litigation-related problems.
While many with pending legal action wanted the state to declare Robert dead so they could settle for the house, Robert’s wife, Elizabeth, never wavered in her steadfast hope that he was still alive. Elizabeth found Robert in Arizona in 1910, and he temporarily moved back to Elgin where he regaled anyone who would listen about his cowboy days and cowboy ways in America’s western frontier.
Financial problems again wore him down, and he again fled to Arizona where Elizabeth followed many years later. Robert died in 1933 and Elizabeth passed away in 1949. Fast forward many years later and 434 E. Chicago was home to a pre-school. Later, its owner restored the home to the quality seen today.
434 E. Chicago Street is a fine example of the Italianate style. A number of features common to the style seen here include the square floor plan, the hopped roof, bracketing at the eaves with paired windows and detailed molding above the windows. The double door is original and, like the rest of the house, has been restored in recent years. The front porch and side door are new post-restoration but the house remains quite true to its past.
Sources: 1999 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud