An Elgin Painted Lady Revisited
By Dan Miller
During WWII, houses in San Francisco were painted gray with cheap war paint, which made the city look decidedly drab. So local artist Butch Kardum started a movement by painting his Victorian home in vivid greens and blues, which led neighbors to do the same. By the '70s, houses across San Francisco were showing off beautiful colors again.The very ornate Victorians lent themselves well to multicolored paint schemes. Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larson coined the term Painted Ladies in 1978 and wrote a book entitled Painted Ladies of San Francisco showing some amazing pictures of houses They followed it up with two more books one of which included two homes from Elgin. Amazon has used copies for under $3.00.
A new painter came to Elgin and made his mark by painting 600 E. Chicago in multicolors. It is on the corner of Liberty and Chicago so everyone noticed it. People used to exclaim to me, "Did you see...." As I knew what they were going to say I finished with "The home at Chicago and Liberty." It was very modest compared to those in San Francisco but it made quite an impression in Elgin. 600 E. Chicago started the colorist movement in Elgin.
600 E. Chicago was on the Housewalk four times in '83, '86, '92 and 2016. For some great history and info on the current owner of the home
to see the Housewalk booklet page from 2016.
The current owner, Susanne Haas realized the home needed substantial maintenance. She hired Carlos Rivera of
Homework Construction Services.
to do the work. Suzanne applied for a City of Elgin Architectural Rehabilitation grant and decided to one up the original painted lady with a new grand paint scheme.
Carlos and his crew spent a substantial amount of time there this past summer making the repairs and painting. I made five custom moldings to replace ones that had rotted or been eaten by squirrels. The old picture showed a spindle balustrade on the porch roof and Susanne had it duplicated. I made the urn newel finials.
I reported earlier that Elgin had won seven of nine painted ladies awards in this year's contest.
to view the Herald article. I am predicting that 600 E. Chicago will be the grand champion in the painted ladies contest of 2018.
Check out some views of the current paint scheme.
A huge thanks goes out to Susanne Haas, Carlos Rivera and his crew and the city of Elgin for making this a showpiece for our city. Thousands of people in cars driving by see it daily. Things like this home improve Elgin's image daily.