The resurrection of 326 E. Chicago
Neighborhood Housing Services came to Elgin in the early ’80s. it was to be a partnership between the city, the banks, and the citizens of Elgin. The Gifford Park Association was instrumental in bringing it to Elgin so three of our board members also board members of Neighborhood Housing Services. People often got the two of us mixed up.
They needed an office so they decided to buy 326 E. Chicago for about $50,000. It was a beauty salon on the first floor and an apartment on the second.
We found an old picture of the original house showing the porches that had been taken off. Mark Herzog, a member of the GPA and NHS baords looked into state grnats and convinced the board to look into restoring the home from the picuture. Ill zoo only had one restoration carpenter at the time that was David Hunt. We got a bid from him of over $50,000 to restore the siding and porches. We decided to go forward with it. There was a huge uproar in the community as they thought putting the hundred thousand dollars into the home was foolish as it would never ever be worth that much money. We went ahead and construction began. John Haight, a local woodworker made the porch posts, balustrade and friez at the top of the porch. He passed away a few years =ao but his family runs The Haight, a funky wedding venue downtown. His shop was where the main dining area is now.
While the rehab was going on a man stopped in saying that when the house was being remodeled he took the original door from the garbage and still had it. He brought it back and it fit right in the hole. It is wonderful.
The home is on a highly trafficed street so it gets a lot of exposure. It became an inspiration for others to do the same. A beautiful house like this the main entryway in Elgin helped improve our image.
Here it is today. NHS moved on to rehab another problem property at 205 N. Gifford for its office. The City of Elgin still owns 326 E. Chicago and uses it as the home of its ROPE officer.
Here is 205 N. Gifford before it was rehabbed to become the second NHS office.