In 1839, Abel Walker came to Elgin and worked as a carpenter, eventually changing occupations to become an undertaker. He acquired property encompassing four blocks bounded by Division, Channing, and Chicago Streets and Hill Avenue. The area became known as Walker’s Addition and was intersected within by Mary Place and Walker Place.

In 1904, Andrew Downer purchased lot 6 on block 2 of Walker’s Addition for $300. By 1907, Downer sold the lot to Frances Walsh and her daughter, Margaret Wilson, for $800. That same year, Frances Walsh acquired a building permit for $2,609, and built a house on the land.

Many members of the Walsh family lived at the house over the years which included Frances Walsh, her husband, Michael; their daughter Margaret and her husband, Herman; and their grandson, Francis Wilson. When they moved to Chicago, Frances continued her ownership of the home, but rented it out to a number of people including Frank A. McCarthy. 

McCarthy was a prominent citizen in Elgin and worked as an attorney. When Elgin got its first professional baseball team, it was organized by the Elgin Baseball Association, with McCarthy their president. He was also active in the Catholic Church community, serving as the local Men’s Council President.

In 1919, the Walsh family sold the home to Charles and Catherine Traub of the Traub Bakery family. Those familiar with the Traub name may recognize it from Fred Traub who is credited with opening Elgin’s first bakery. Fred’s home at 625 Lillie Street was designated a local historic landmark in 2005. 


489 Mary Place has very little alterations since it was built in 1907 and is considered a contributing property in Elgin Historic District Resources Survey. 489 Mary Place was built in the American Foursquare typology and reflects simplistic details throughout. The home exhibits a full-width front porch on a stone foundation. It has a pyramidal roof with wide, enclosed eaves and dormers found on the front roof plane.



Sources: 1990 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud