This building was originally built for Philip and Elizabeth Freiler in 1887 at a cost of $12,000. An excerpt from the Annual Review of Local Construction states, "There are very few residences which equal Philip Freiler's, either in beauty or presentation. It was erected this year, and is located on aristocratic Douglas Avenue. The plans were drawn by Hoag, and the edifice is worthy of special mention. It is a frame building, very ornamental." 

Philip Freiler was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1860. He was a distiller and owned Father Time Rye Whiskey in Elgin from 1883 until 1914 when Elgin voted to go dry. Due to this, he moved his business to Chicago. He also held stock in several banks in Elgin and was recognized as a leader of the democratic party in Elgin. Ironically, this home, according to hearsay, was later used as the headquarters for the Elgin Republican Party. Freiler passed away in 1916 leaving his wife, Elizabeth, and four daughters. 

The home was then sold in 1917 to Minard McCarthy. He willed the property to his sons who sold the home in 1927 to Miss Doris Clute, who did not occupy the home. Miss Clute divided the home into three apartments in 1929 and by 1934, it was divided into four. The home was deconverted back to a single family in the early 2000's. 


653 Douglas Avenue is a very good example of the Queen Anne, Eastlake Stick architecture, one of the few to exist in Elgin. It was designed by local architect Smith Hoag and built by Kirkpatrick. The building has seen few alterations over the course of its history. When originally constructed, it had a square tower located above the main entrance vestibule. This was destroyed in a fire. The parade porch located above the front porch as well as the wrap-around front porch were restored in early 2000. The wrought-iron fence along Douglas Avenue is original to the home.



Sources: 1993 Heritage Plaque Application, Audio: TextAloud