162 Summit

162 Summit Elgin, IL

After the crash President Obama initiated what he called the National Stabilization Program (NSP).  It gave money to cities to buy and rehabilitate foreclosed problem properties that were having such a negative impact on our neighborhoods.  The City of Elgin was awarded over two million dollars.  I was lucky enough to be on the committee that looked at houses for sale in Elgin to pick the ones most in need of help.  With the Federal money the city bought eight or ten houses, rehabbed four themselves and gave the rest to Habitat for Humanity to rehab.  They put out a request for proposals to contractors to bid on the city owned properties.  One of the houses was awarded to Carlos Rivera at  Homework Construction an Elgin firm and the other three were given to a contractor from St. Charles.  I have a great relationship with Carlos so I was hired to recreate a lot of the missing details at 162 Summit.  Here is how it looked when the city purchased it for $56,430 in 2010. It had wide exposure aluminum siding on it and was two units.



I exactly duplicated hundreds of feet of missing interior trim, recreated fancy window hoods on the exterior and repaired the broken gable ornaments.

When a past owner put aluminum siding on the house he had to take all of the window trim off to make a flat surface to easily reside. The marks onthe house were used to recreate the window hoods.

Here is a mockup of a window hood I made to get approval from the city and their architect.


Here are  finished window hoods:

The original side porch post and balustrade had been replaced with wrought iron but no pictures of the original porch were available.


Luckily the gable ornaments, front porch canopy and their fancy brackets remained. The gable ornaments needed extensive repairs.  Here they are after repairs were made. The left half is new as is the turned pendant.

This was made new to duplicate the original exactly.  

An architect was hired to design the new porch.  I suggested a design that I thought would be appropriate.  I made full scale mockups of everything to show the city and architect.  I was allowed to carry out my designs.

I put the mockup on the house to check for scale and to get the okay from the city and architect. The two window hoods in the picture are new.
















The spindle design was taken from the spindle on the canopy brackets as seen below.

Here is the finished bracket. Notice the classic symbolism of the crescent moon and star.

Of the design Wikipedia says, “Today, the crescent moon and star symbol is universally recognized as a symbol of Islam, and for that reason, it appears on the flag of many countries where Islam is a state religion or which has a largely Muslim population. Currently 8 countries have this symbol on their national flags, and all of them are


For info on the history of the star and crescent moon click here.

The plans had called for Home Depot spindles.  I turned 15 custom spindles to match the design in the brackets.  I also made the rails and post.

The contractor entered the home in the annual Chicagoland Painted Ladies contest and won.




Click here to read a Herald article about the property.

Click here to see some interior pictures of the home.

162 Summit

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375 PrairieElgin IL

375 Prairie

When Bob and Beth Tierney bought 375 Prairie it needed a lot of work.  The porch was rotting off and the paint was peeling. They applied for and got a grant to rebuild the front porch. I made all of the pieces they needed matching the originals exactly – rails, balusters, apron frame, post bases, triangular apron under steps, newel posts and threads.

Bob started the project and by very late fall he was not finished so he tented the whole porch and heated it so he could continue to work.  He even lighted it so he could work at night.

The porch turned out very nicely and Bob and Beth won a Mayor’s award for their efforts.   See the pictures below to see the progression of the making of the porch.


375 Prairie

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Old picutre of D.C. Cook mansion

The porch I would love to build

The David C. Cook mansion at 105 N. Gifford  was built in 1885 for David C. Cook, the son of a Methodist minister and prominent Elgin publisher. It cost $10,000 to build.   The wonderful porch as seen in the old picture below is one that we hope to have a chance to get rebuild.


In the 50’s it had extensive additions to make rooms for a retirement center. Below is a picture from 2008.


Several years ago it was foreclosed upon and has been vacant ever since.  The Gifford Park Association is currently working with the bank in hopes of getting the additions off and rehabbing the building.  Hopefully I will get a chance to participate in rebuilding the porches from the picture.

As an interesting side note, here is a picture of David C. Cooks other house in Piru, CA.  It is currently used as a wedding venue.  Click here for more info and pictures.  It burned to the ground and was rebuilt using the original plans.  If they can do that, Elgin can certainly restore his first home.

David C. Cook’s story is quite fascinating.  His mail order sewing machine accesories business was destroyed in the Chicago fire of 1871. Undaunted, Cook started over in the business of helping the victims of the fire. He opened a mission on North Avenue in one of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods.  There, he saw the need for Sunday School lesson books written at a level at which these underprivileged students could read.  Cook took on the task of writing and printing “Our Sunday School Quarterly” himself.  His new wife, Marguerite, helped in the venture also, and they began “Our Sunday School Gem” a 16 page magazine, definetely the most popular Sunday School paper of the day.

The business began in the Lakeview neighborhood in Chicago, but when it outgrew that spot, they moved operations to an old wollenmill in Elgin.  Incorporated as the David C. Cook Publishing company, the firm’s publicatins soon had a circulation of 5 million copies per month, and even the Elgin Post Office had to move to bigger quarters, to accomadate the overwhelming increase in mail handling.

Thanks goes out to the Gifford Park Associaton for the above account found in their Housewalk booklet from when the home was featured on the  Historic Elgin House Tour.

If you would like to see interior pictures of the house before details were removed click here.





New porch at 364 Division

Recreated porch at 396 Division

396 Division had its original front porch taken off some time ago as shown below.

Luckily there are old pictures of the home available showing a front porch.

An appropriate porch was put back.

Here is the home before the paint was stripped off.


Taking the paint off made an incredible difference as shown below

364 Division


730 Douglas Porch

Recreating an old house porch from a picture

Recreating an old house porch from a picture

The owners of this home knew their porch shown below was not original to the house and wanted to put back an appropriate one.

They put a lot of time into coming up with a new design and got it approved by the Design Review Committee.

They were about to begin construction when a descendant of a past resident knocked on their door saying she had an old picture.  It showed the porch that was there in pretty good detail. A very high quality scan allowed me to zoom in on details.

I took that picture and made full scale mock ups of the balustrade, porch apron and spandrel.  I put the mockups on the house for the Design Review committee and owners to approve and it was.

Here are pictures of the finished porch balustrade and apron.




155 S Gifford After

Our Porch

Porch Progression: 582 Park St. Elgin