In 1881, J. D. Hibbard sold the rights the land at 514 Douglas to M. J. and Vienna Garty. The following April, the Garty’s sold the property for quadruple the price to Grote and Waldon, well known Elgin real estate dealers, suggesting that the land had been developed.  The property quickly changed hands again, this time to Chris Lay in 1882. A saloon keeper, Lay was listed in the 1884-85 Elgin City Directory at 316 Douglas Avenue, which became 514 after Elgin’s fourth and final address realignment in 1894.

In 1885, the property was put into Catherine Lay’s name, Chris’ wife. Catherine passed away in 1898 following an illness. Chris later remarried to Minna, as indicated by his own obituary from 1932 noting Minna as his surviving widow. Neither Chris and Catherine nor Chris and Minna had any children, but the house stayed in Minna’s ownership until her passing in 1949. Minna’s passing ended the 67 years of Lay ownership for the home at 514 Douglas.


514 Douglas is a nice example of the Italianate style, exhibiting a number of its most common characteristics including a low pitched roof with an iron balustrade at the top, a nod to the square tower or cupolas seen on higher styles. 514 is also square, asymmetrical, has a bay window on the south side elevation and two-over-two paned windows throughout most of the home. Double front doors, square porch supports with decorative brackets and vertical banding also add to the Italianate details.  

514 Douglas Avenue is listed as a contributing property in the Spring-Douglas Historic District National Register of Historic Places nominating form.



Sources: 2001 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud