544 S. LIBERTY STREET
The house was built by famed Elgin architect W. W. Abell in 1892-1893. Comparing today’s home to historic Sanborn maps, it appears that the only substantial change to the home’s overall footprint was the enclosure of the rear porch and the rebuilding of the side porch reusing the original columns and retaining the original stairs, ceiling, roof and soffit.
Abell built the home for Ernest and Catherine Ricker. Ernest, known in Elgin as E. H. Ricker, was the manager of the Elgin Nursery which sold a variety of trees including everything from apple to evergreens. Ricker took over the business from D. C. Scofield who had established the business in 1854.
Catherine and Ernest had two children together, Harry and Lois. Ernest was born in Portage County, Wisconsin, and met his wife in Elgin where she was born. While it is unclear when the family moved out of 544 S. Liberty, records indicate that they eventually made way south, to Texas.
544 S. Liberty is an excellent example of a Shingle style home, defined by its cross gabled, steeply pitched roof lines; shingled walls without interruption at the corners; multi-level eaves; extensive porches with both a shingled and classical columned portion.
Sources: 1998 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud