Right on the edge of the Civic Center along the avenue named for orator Stephen Douglas, Thomas McBride, one of Elgin's wealthiest men, built a handsome and elegant structure in 1889. The McBride Building is at once solid and imposing in its use of stone block, brick, and granite at the same time as it is light and delicate in the simple corner column and East-lake detail work. The wedge-shaped building along the "low" Chicago and Northwestern track made it easy to load and unload the freight cars that plied back and forth.
To spare the demolition of the building, the upper facade was covered in yellow aluminum in the mid 1960s and remained a big yellow box until 2002. By then, Federal money to preserve and restore old buildings was available and owner Ben Corn took the brave and heroic step to use Elgin's Facade Improvement Grant program to save the character of his building. The Corn family has received numerous awards, including Elgin's Mayor's Award, for their building restoration and serve as a role model for other downtown building owners to preserve the character of their buildings.