Historic Elgin House Tour

September 10 & 11, 2022

327 DuPage St.

Homeowner: Frank & Erin Adame

Architectural Notes

327 DuPage Street is listed as a significant structure to the Elgin Historic District. It is of the Second Empire style, also known as Mansard or General Grant style as it was a popular style during the Grant administration. The Second Empire style was popular at the same time as the Italianate. Italianates (1845-1885) are considered a part of the Romantic movement in house design whereas the Second Empire (1855-1885) are part of the Victorian movement. The home is symmetrical and has an impressive first floor entry off of DuPage Street. The decorative bay windows with arched windows flank the entry stoop with highly ornate fretwork. The mansard roof contains three windows on the front façade with an arched central dormer and segmentally arched flanking dormers. The soffit contains decorative scroll brackets with dentils along the frieze board. To note, the garage was built recently and reflects the overall design of the main house.

John Spire built 327 DuPage in 1871. The “merchant, capitalist,” according to the Elgin City Directory, had moved to Elgin in 1848. He died in 1882 but his widow remained at the house until the early 1890s.

John Murphy, an Elgin alderman and Ford dealer, was the next owner. Murphy and his wife, Maria, had two sons. He enjoyed speeding around town in his “Red Devil” automobile, though he voted in favor of speed limits on city streets. He became superintendent of streets, and later developed a motorized street sweeper. Murphy engaged American Tower and Tank Co., a water tower company in Elgin, for financing and to build the street sweeper. The company became known as the Elgin Street Sweeper Co., later Elgin Sweeper Co. It still exists in Elgin today, and is now a unit of Federal Signal Corp.

Among the other owners of 327 DuPage were Edward and Josephine Kelly, from 1915 to 1919. Edward was a mechanic for National Garage. They had two daughters: Ella was a bookkeeper and Mary was a teacher.

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In 1920, Maria Tyrrell bought the property. She was the widow of Dr. Pierce Tyrrell, who practiced medicine in Elgin from 1868 to 1914. Maria remained at 327 DuPage until 1944. More owners came and went, including William Smith, an employee of Elgin National Watch Factory and later D.C. Cook Publishing Co., from 1956 to 1962. More owners came and went.

In the mid-1960s, 327 DuPage had been divided into five apartments. Many other houses in the area were divided into apartments as well; tenants came and went.

After renovations by J.B. Harris Construction paid for by city and Heritage Commission grants, plus $1,800 given by the Gifford Park Association to restore the home’s foundation, Rev. Nancy Schatzeder, a Congregational minister, bought 327 DuPage in 2007.

Frank Adame first saw 327 DuPage when he was doing work in the neighborhood. He figured his wife, Erin, would like it, too, so they got a real estate agent to show it to them. Erin says when they walked in “I immediately was in love with the staircase.” She had had cancer treatment that caused weakness, and said it was difficult to go upstairs. “Once I made it up[stairs], I couldn’t believe how neat it was,” she says. The Adames closed on the house in mid-April of 2013 and began moving in the next week.

Says Erin: “I was told John Murphy lived in this house. My maiden name is Murphy, so I found that interesting. I knew the Elgin Sweeper Co. was here in Elgin, but never guessed that it was John Murphy who invented the Elgin Sweeper, and I would be living in his house. I exported Elgin sweepers all over the world, mainly Dubai. It all fell together and I felt this house was for me.”

Frank and Erin created a business in construction contracting, FAR Services Inc., about 30 years ago, and it’s still “thriving,” Erin says. Erin was in international sales, marketing and exports until she was diagnosed with cancer. She now works part time in retail.

Erin didn’t grow up in an older house, but the house her grandmother was born in (a picture is hanging on the wall in their kitchen) was her “dream house.” She had grown up in Naperville and Frank grew up in Arlington Heights. Before moving to 327 DuPage, the couple lived in Arlington Heights.

Since buying their house, Frank and Erin have built themselves a garage. They’ve also upgraded the bathrooms and kitchen, refinished the hardwood floors, replaced the cellar doors and added a fence.

In the future, the Adames want to finish the basement and refinish all of the home’s windows. They’ve also discussed a deck on top of the lower roof next to the garage.

Among the couple’s favorite features of 327 DuPage are its high ceilings, space and details, staircase, and the hardwood floors. They appreciate their house’s proximity to downtown Elgin, which they describe as “beautiful.” “The library is the best I’ve ever been in,” Erin says. They say Festival Park’s park for children is great, as is bike riding along the river. The couple say the walking distance to the train and bus depot and easy access to the tollway are big pluses, too.

“While this house is modest in size compared to many Second Empire homes, it is rich in detail”

~2009 Historic Elgin House Tour Book

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