The Gifford Park Association won a 2017 Elgin Image Award for the Historic Elgin Housewalk
Commissioner Michael J. Murschel made the introduction speech the text of which is below.
A joy shared is twice the joy. And, for one day a year over the past 36 years, Elgin has been doubling the joy of its rich heritage of historical architecture with others. Lots of others. More than 50,000 of them. Two years ago, this home-grown event expanded from one day, to two days, just to accommodate them all.
Indeed, the Historic Elgin House Tour has put Elgin on the map, on the calendars, and in the hearts of people across this region. It has opened the doors to some 229 homes and 33 commercial buildings and houses of worship across ten quintessential Elgin neighborhoods, and impressed some people so much that they decided to move here and make Elgin their home.
It all began in 1979 with the formation of the Gifford Park Association. Within two years, that group saw the value of exposing people to the venerable vistas locked behind the historic doors of our homes, and, in 1981, they offered the first of what has built up over the years to be a flagship event not only for the Gifford Park Association, but also for Elgin, our region, and historic preservation in general.
The funds, raised from this event, stay here to enhance the image of Elgin. To undergird preservation efforts such as the restoration of the Nancy Kimball House, Elgin's oldest extant cobblestone dwelling. To upgrade historical district street signs. For sustainable work such as the planting of trees, and the nurture of a respect for our history by providing educational materials to School District U-46.
Today's event is a far cry from the first one, with its hand-made silk-screened banners, and typewritten pages with stick-on graphics. Today, the Gifford Park Association shares its vision with fellow neighborhood groups, the Elgin Area Historical Society, and the City of Elgin, producing an eloquent event booklet, social media and web presence, and online videography, all designed to ripple out the awareness of this much-anticipated event which speaks so profoundly to Elgin's very foundations. And producing a genuine honor, respect, and love for this beautiful place that we call home.
On behalf of my fellow commissioners, I am pleased to present a 2017 Organization Image Award to the Historic Elgin House Tour.