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 to 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.