Housewalk History

Historic Elgin House Walk- A Little History

The Gifford Park Association was founded in 1979. Shortly thereafter, one of our founding fathers, Mark Herzog, had the idea to hold a house walk to promote Elgin and old-house living as a fundraiser. In 1981, we held our first house walk, featuring houses in the original Historic District as well as the west side. We had very little money, so Mark funded most of the up-front expenses with his father’s credit card.

Today we spend approximately $10,000 to put on our annual walk. Back in 1981, an artist member designed banners for the walk. We silk screened them ourselves, made our own hardware and installed them on posts downtown using ladders. We did not have a booklet, just individual pages for the homes. The informational pages were created using a typewriter and stick-on graphics. We had 500 people participate and were off and running on a long tradition of house walks.

One year we had a high of 2,800 participants and actually ran out of booklets. The lines were so long that a couple of people asked for their money back. What a wonderful problem to have!

The house walk has been a successful fundraiser for us over the years, allowing the Gifford Park Association to support the Elgin community by donating $10,000 to the National Street Depot renovation and rehabbing four houses in the Historic District. Make sure you don’t miss the 36th version of this great tour to be held on September 9th and 10th, 2017!