508 Ashland Avenue was built in 1890 for Charles Smithberg for $1,500. The home was built by Gust Anderson Builders. Smithberg immigrated to Elgin from Sweden to work at the Elgin National Watch Company as a jeweler. He and  his first wife, Augusta Gustavson, had two children, Fred and Ed, however, their third child and Augusta passed away during child birth in 1893. Charles remarried Matilda (Tillie) in 1897 and also had two children, Albin and Helen. By 1915, Charles was no longer working at the Elgin National Watch Company but at a Jewelry shop in St. Charles. His son, Albin, also worked with Charles at that time. As a wedding present to their son Albin, Charles and Tillie built 517 Ashland Avenue for Albin's second wife, Anna. In 1928, Charles passed away at the age of 71 years old. Tillie continued to live at 508 Ashland with her daughter Helen and granddaughter, Vivian. Tillie passed away in 1938 leaving her daughter, Helen, the home. Helen converted the home into a two-flat, renting it until 1948 when it was sold to Sidney Wilson and his wife. 


508 Ashland Avenue is of the Queen Anne style. Some decorative elements associated with style and seen on this home include its decorative wood shingles (honeycomb and square), oriel window on the front facade with mansard roof, stained glass transom, brackets, and decorative trim found throughout the exterior.



Sources: 2010 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud