Historic Elgin House Tour

September 10 & 11, 2022

27 Rugby Pl.

Homeowner: Matt Martin & Christen Sundquist

Architectural Notes

Historically, 27 Rugby Place was designed in the Italianate Style, though it appears now as a Colonial Revival. After the 1950s some of its characteristic Italianate elements such as the brackets under the eaves, crown molding above the 2nd floor windows and smaller front and side porches were removed. The exterior of the home was modernized with aluminum siding and a classically designed wraparound porch was constructed. The original siding is still under the aluminum and is in good condition. The new owners plan to remove the aluminum, restore the original siding and recreate the Italianate features in the next couple of years. Worthy to note is the four-bay carriage house with each bay separate from the other and a coachman’s living quarters can be found on the 2nd floor. The original tin bath tub, toilet and potbelly stove still remain!

When 27 Rugby came on the market in 2021, Matt Martin and Christen Sundquist were not intending to look for a house. They were happily ensconced in their 1887 house on Hill Avenue.

However, they had been thinking that after the major porch restoration they did, the house on Hill did not offer enough hands-on projects. When they looked at 27 Rugby they saw what a perfect fit it could be for an architect and an architectural historian. Between them, they have all the energy, skills and knowledge necessary to be the best possible stewards for this house with a rich history, and there is plenty to do here! Matt says sometimes it’s like drinking from a fire hose. They are delighted to have a larger house so that they can entertain more, and enjoy the views over the adjacent park. Of course, the nearby school will come in handy when son Hudson is a little older.

The imposing house at the end of Rugby Place was built in 1888 for William A. Kerber, co-founder of Kerber Meat Packing Company, which grew to become the largest wholesale meat distributor in the Midwest. The house nestles invitingly into a sloping lot that originally stood at the north edge of Elgin’s first city cemetery. This section of the original Gifford plat was sold to John Webb in 1887, who subdivided it into residential lots. 

For the first 103 years, the house had only two owners. It remained in the Kerber family from its construction until 1964, when it passed to the Castle family, relatives of Mrs. Kerber, who lived there until 1991.

William (Will) Kerber was the son of Charles A. Kerber and Mary Andorf Kerber. Charles Sr. and Mary had five children: Charles August (1855-1930; wife: Alice Beckwith); Otto A. (1857-1942; wife: Rose Berna, d. 1954); Emma Dorothy (1859-1961; never married); Louise Agnes (Mrs. Carl E. Botsford) (1862- 1951;); and William A. (1865-1945; wife: Emma Stiles Nelson 1874-1967).

William sold his interest in the market in 1888 and worked for a packing company in Chicago until 1893, when he returned to Kerber Meat Packing from 1893 until 1918. Then he sold his interest in the packing company and devoted the rest of his life to banking interests, the management of his extensive realty holdings, and to civic affairs and fraternal groups.

He was a director of the Union National Bank, a member of the Elgin zoning board of appeals and a charter member of the Elks lodge. Will shared this house with his mother and sister Emma. He purchased the lot north of his house in 1890 where he built 15 Rugby Place (1890) and 11 Rugby Place (1906), both of which were used as rental properties.

While the house has had few owners, there have been a number of rental occupants throughout the years. The house was split into two side-by-side units in 1920. Fred H. Schuett, a salesman, and his wife Emma K. Schuett, a Christian Science Practitioner, lived in the north half of the house from 1921-42. The next tenants were Christine and Alfred T. Sholund, an office manager at Shurtleff. They lived there until 1962, when Emma’s nephew Eugene Castle and his wife Helen moved in. Will’s daughter-in-law Emma Stiles Kerber and Eugene Castle’s mother Mabel Stiles Castle were sisters. The Castles bought the property in 1963.

The Castles had four children: William Franz, Ann Wood, Donald Eugene and Kathryn Jean. They resided at 27 Rugby until 1992 when JIll and Lamar Pate bought it. The Pate’s sold the home in December 2021 to the current owners.

“The Kerber brothers opened a retail meat market in downtown Elgin in 1882 that remained in the Kerber family until 1950.”

~Elgin History Museum Crackerbarrel Newsletter, September 2019

Kerber