674 S. LIBERTY STREET
In 1926, Benjamin Blanchard began building on the lot that would become 674 S. Liberty Street. The 1927-28 Elgin City Directory is the first to officially show Blanchard at the home. Blanchard and his wife, Edith, lived at 674 S. Liberty together until his passing in 1948. Edith continued living in the home until 1961, when she sold it to Warren and Erma Parks.
While physically small in size, the history of homes such as these are intricately important with American manufacturing history. Benjamin Blanchard, the first owner of this home, was a watch factory employee like so many in Elgin. As rail lines and industry production became more sophisticated post-WWI, affordable bungalows were constructed across America with amazing rapidity.
674 S. Liberty Street is an excellent example of the mail order Bungalow. Kit homes such as these were extremely popular in the early part of the 1900s as industry combined to not only make homes affordable to the working class but also for materials to be shipped with greater ease to places all over America. This particular home, known as “The Sunlight” model, features indicative of the bungalow style include: the low pitched gable roof; the clipped gables; full-width front porch; and rectangular plan. It is 1 and ½ stories tall and originally included exposed rafter ends, a key element to classifying the Craftsman bungalow, a popular variation.
Sources: 2002 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud