55 S. LIBERTY STREET
In its annual review of building permits in 1891, the Elgin Daily Courier wrote that a house at 27 S. Liberty was built for the cost of $8,000. The Elgin City Directory for 1891-92 lists William and Elizabeth Chapman as living at 27 S. Liberty. When the city changed its address numbering convention for the final time in 1894, 27 S. Liberty became 55 S. Liberty.
In 1892 the Chapman’s mortgaged 55 S. Liberty for $6,000, and went into contract with wealthy Elginite Peter Burritt, who then held the mortgage. Burritt passed away shortly after this transaction and Rebecca Gilbert, his wife, took over the remaining debts.
By 1896, the Chapman’s had left their home at 55 S. Liberty, and began renting it out to different tenants. By 1907, the Chapman’s no longer resided in Illinois and found themselves in the middle of foreclosure proceedings at the behest of Rebecca Gilbert. Gilbert took over the deed in 1909.
55 S. Liberty remained a rental property and was divided into several apartments. Rebecca Gilbert placed the home in a trust, and when she passed away in 1944, it was granted to her trustees. In 1958, the house was sold by the Gilbert Trust.
The house at 55 S. Liberty is listed in the Lord’s Park Neighborhood Historic Resources Survey as significant to the history of the area. Additionally, it is an irregular shaped, two-story frame, Queen Anne style house with a hipped roof with intersecting dormers on the side and rear of the building. The home also has an asymmetrical facade with a full-width front porch. Other features characteristic of this style include: the towers, the bay windows and the ornamental shingles.
Some original pieces throughout the house have been found in more recent years including original curved glass windows and original woodwork for the stairway in the attic. Additionally, a scale model replica of the house in its mostly original state was also found. It shows the original front porch along with the rest if the home, including the porte cochere once sitting on the north side of the home.
Sources: 2002 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud