863 MILL STREET
In 1904, lot 8 – which 863 Mill Street would be built on – was purchased by George and Frances Linkfield. A few years later in 1908, George and Frances had moved out of the home and their granddaughter, Hazel, owned the property. Hazel acquired the property shortly after her father died. He was never owner of the home, however, only renting due to his financial instability.
Hazel Linkfield graduated from Elgin High School in 1904 and went on to the University of Wisconsin where she earned a Master’s degree. She came back to Elgin and started teaching foreign languages at EHS in 1917, eventually becoming the head of the Foreign Language Department. Among her many accomplishments, she was the president of the Illinois State Division of the American Association of University Women from 1937 to 1939. She passed away in 1973 at the age of 85.
In 1929, Hazel finally sold the property after years of renting it out. Harry and Mae Wascher bought 863 Mill the same year. Mae worked in the timing department of the Watch Factory until her retirement in 1941, and died in 1955 at the age of 59. Harry was a WWI veteran, receiving a Silver Star citation during his service. He too worked in the Elgin Watch Factory and was an active member with the Watch Workers Union. He was also very active in the Elgin Watch Employees Civic Welfare Fund, sitting on the board which ensured part of watch worker’s wages been given to charitable causes. Harry died in 1979 at the age of 81.
863 is an example of the Gable-Front style. An affordable house for working class Americans, it was easy to build and became quite popular across the American landscape. Notable Gable Front features seen here in 863 include its 1 and ½ story floor plan, a full-width front porch with simple porch supports and Classical columns, with little decorative details.
Sources: 2004 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud