470 Park Street was built in 1886 for James L. and Mary Sheehan. The land that 470 Park Street was built upon was first purchased by B.W. Raymond in the 1850's. While not a resident of Elgin, Mr. Raymond played an influential role in the early development of the city. As early as 1839, he was a partner in a downtown retail store. He later served on the Board of Trustees of the Elgin Academy. As an officer and later president of the Galena & Chicago Railroad, Mr. Raymond was instrumental in bringing the line through Elgin. His most significant association with Elgin comes from being a major investor and first president of the Elgin National Watch Company. Raymond Street is named after him. During his lifetime, Mr. Raymond served as a Chicago civic leader and mayor. 

Among Mr. Raymond's real estate ventures was the B.W. Raymond Addition. The house at 470 Park Street sits on lot 16 of this subdivision. The land was platted out for residential development in approximately 1855. At the time, the Addition was on the edge of town and allowed for the extension of Park Street to the east.

Twenty-three year old James L. Sheehan arrived in Elgin in 1855 after immigrating from County Tipperary, Ireland. During the Civil War, he enlisted in Company C., 127th Infantry under the command of General John A. Logan in the Army of Tennessee. James was remembered as a Civil War hero and his death in 1906 was widely reported in local newspapers. According to city directories he worked as a tanner from 1860-1878. From approximately 1878 until his retirement in 1904, Mr. Sheehan was employed by the Borden Milk Condensing plant as a night watchman. 

James L. and Mary (nee Ferguson) Sheehan had four sons and one daughter. One son, James S. Sheehan, was an early Elgin firefighter. James S. joined the Fire Department in 1895 and retired in 1921 having achieved the rank of Captain of Hook and Ladder Company No. 1. 

James S., along with his brothers Charles and Richard, resided in the house after their parent's death. The last of the original family members, Charles Sheehan passed away in 1944. The immediate family lived on the property for 80 years, 58 of which were in the existing house. 


470 Park Street is a representative example of houses erected during the 1870 and 1910 time period. There are several homes with similar features in the neighborhood. The construction techniques are typical of wood frame houses from the late nineteenth century. The modest decorative detailing reflects the economic status of the home's original working class owner. 

The home is classified as a two and one half story cross gabled, Queen Anne style home. The building has clapboard siding with fish scale shingles at the attic level in the gabled ends. The design of the first floor includes two bay windows that are simplistic in ornamentation. All of the windows are simple one-over-one light double-hung sashes. The screen/storm doors are richly detailed with spindle work and the porches are skirted with wood trim into which a tulip pattern has been cut. The foundation is flagstone with no finish coat over the stone. There are four porches to this house. The front porch is tucked into a recessed area on the front facade. It is simple in design but highlighted by the cupid's key pattern in the trim band above the porch. The home also displays a seven color paint scheme that is historically appropriate. 



Sources: 1999 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud