Between 1870 and 1890, Elgin's population expanded from 5,400 to 22,000 as it became the nation's center for butter and cheese trade and the manufacture of fine watches. To accommodate the burgeoning population, the need for different housing emerged. Worker's flats and cottages stood side by side amidst the grand homes of the wealthier class.

490 Park Street, while not a worker's flat or a grand mansion, epitomizes the turn-of-the-century striving for an economical and comfortable house. Such simplicity and concern for space was a reaction to the decorative exuberance and eclecticism of the Victorian era, and answered the housing needs for the growing middle class. Oscar L. Fabrique, a long time employee of the Elgin Watch Factory, married his next door neighbor Katherine McKenzie in 1898, and together they had this house built in 1904. The original cost was $5,000.


490 Park Street  has a simple compact form and natural stucco cladding which is characteristic of the post-Victorian American Foursquare style. The unique over-sized horse-shoe dormer and the half-round window marking the stairwell on the east facade either a Beaux Arts or a Louis Sullivan influence. The bay forms soften the overall box form of the house and give special focus to the parlor, dining room and second floor bedrooms. 



Sources: 1993 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud