In 1883, William Hart bought lot 15 in Block 7 of Lovell's Subdivision, and in September 1886 bought Daily Courier, December 24, 1886 carried a review of construction in the city that year, included was "William Hart's new home on Douglas Avenue is another of the model residence of Elgin. It is a frame building and cost $3,400." Gilbert M. Turnbull was the architect. 

William was operated a successful drug store on E. Chicago Street. He entered the drug store business with L. M. Kelley in 1874, which expanded over time to neighboring towns. Hart eventually was a sole proprietor until his son joined when William became ill. 

In 1918, William warranted 733 Douglas Avenue for a $1.00 to his newlywed daughter, Louise, who married John R. DeLancey, a partner in D. & W. Ice cream. William passed away on Valentine's Day in 1925 from complications of diabetes. Louise inherited 638 Douglas Avenue and she and John lived there until 1964, ending the 78 years of ownership by the Hart family.  


638 Douglas Avenue is in the Queen Anne style with Italianate features. It is a two-story house with a prominent front facing gable and a jerkinhead (flattened peak) cross-gable roof. The main body of the house is brick while the upper story is clad in varied shingles. Italianate features include the decorative brackets beneath the roof and tall, narrow windows. The windows are symmetrically placed on the front facade, with three in the upper story and two on the lower story along side the front entry door. The windows are nine-over-nine divided lite double-hung windows. The house is distinguished by its front entry that is recessed slightly into the facade, has a five windowed transom over a door flanked by sidelights. There is also a two-story sun room/sleeping porch with a shed roof in the rear "L" on the south.

638 Douglas Avenue is considered as a significant and contributing structure to the Spring-Douglas Historic District, a nationally recognized district in which it resides.



Sources: 2008 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud