105 N. Gifford, the David C. Cook home, is a 12 room mansion that cost $10,000 to build in 1885. David's daughter and her husband lived there until 1945.
The building was turned into a nursing home with several huge additions added on over the years. This is the west side where the porches originally were.
This is the south side with full width addition including a basement.
The round bay on the south side had its conical tower removed with a dormer put in its place.
We all need to be very aware of this building and the fact that we could lose it anytime. We all need to work very hard to make sure Elgin does not lose another of its treasures. A bank currently owns it as the business was shut down by authorities and it was foreclosed upon several years ago. The Gifford Park Association is working very hard to find a solution for it. Our first priority is to get the additions removed as they are hinding so much of the original building. With the additons off and the paint on the bricks stripped off it will look much like its neighbor one block away at 364 Division.
Even today, influential men often have gray moustaches.
David C. Cook was born in 1850, the son of a Methodist minister.
As a young man he worked in his father's print shop as a printers devil, the guy that sets type by hand, and taught Sunday school. It was these two activities which led him down the path to founding the Nation's largest interdenominational publishing house.
His mail order sewing machine accessories business was destroyed in the Chicago fire of 1871. Undaunted, Cook started over in the business of helping the victims of the fire. He opened a mission on North Avenue in one of the city's most dangerous neighborhoods. There, he saw the need for Sunday school lesson books written at a level at which these underprivileged students could read.
Cook took on the task of writing and printing "Our Sunday School Quarterly" himself. His new wife, Marguerite, helped in the venture also and they began "Our Sunday School Gem" a 16 page magazine, definitely the most popular Sunday school paper of the day.
The business began in the Lakeview neighborhood in Chicago, but when it outgrew that spot, they moved operations to an old woolen mill in Elgin on the river at Highland and Grove. Incorporated as the David C. Cook Publishing Company, the firm's publications soon had a circulation of 5 million copies per month. The Elgin post office had to move to bigger quarters to accomadate the overwhelming increase in mail handling.
In 1901 David and his wife were
forced to leave his growing operation in the hands of others and moved to California to rest. He built a magnificant mansion in the little unincorprated town of Piru, in the Califonia mountains. Below are some pictures.
The building burned and was rebuilt using the original plans. It is currently a wedding venue called the Newhall Mansion. Click here to see more info on the home.
After oil was discovered on land next door, an oil company offered to buy some of Cook's land in hopes of finding more oil. David and Marguerite took the money and headed back to Elgin to build a state-of-the-art printing plant at 850 N. Grove Ave.
Their building is almost two blocks long and a half block wide. This picture shows only half of it.
Although their headquarters moved to Colorado, some distribution still takes place on Grove Avenue in Elgin.
David C. Cook headquarters in Colorado
Click here to view pictures of the David C. Cook mansion at 105 N. Gifford in Elgin before elements were sold to a salvage yard in Chicago.
Click here to view pictures of the mansion as it looks today.