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Near West Neighborhood
Historic Preservation Study Area
PACE Route 526 - West Plaza
Begin: May Street/New York Street
End: Highland Avenue/Galena Boulevard
This pleasant tour will take you by more of Aurora’s architecturally significant homes. An important part of Aurora’s history, many of the early residents included prominent Aurora businessmen, such as Reuben Hobbs, a founder of the Aurora Cotton Mills.
1. Wesley United Methodist Church, 1929
Corner of Galena Boulevard and May Street
W.E.N. Hunter and Company of Detroit designed this late Gothic Revival style church in 1929. Characteristic features include the arched windows, tracery, and rose window. The rose or chancel window is the focal point of the church. When daylight shines through the window, the colorful stained glass is illuminated. At night, interior lighting reveals the gold leaf on the lead that surrounds the stained glass, resulting in a completely different effect.
2. Nicholson House, 1890-92
550 Galena Boulevard
William P. Nicholson had this Queen Anne style house built between 1890-92. Note how clapboards are applied vertically and diagonally for decorative effect. Nicholson worked as a chemical examiner for the Chicago & Aurora Smelting Company.
3. 1-9 S. View Street, 1928
This late Gothic Revival-style apartment house with pointed arched doors was built in 1928 by R.M. and L.E. Baldwin. It features pointed arched doors with Tudor style hood details, stone trim and battlements. Its courtyard design provides light and air to the apartments.
4. Lewis Judson House, 1884
460 W. Galena Boulevard
J.E. Minott designed this Italianate style house in 1884. The unusual convex mansard roofed porch and side porch are elegant features. Judson and L.F. Arnold platted Oswego in 1835. Judson moved to Aurora and was an organizer of Aurora Silver Plate.
5. 509-511 W. Galena Boulevard, 1887-1895
Lewis Judson also had this Queen Anne style duplex built in 1887-1895. The window cornice hoods and medallions under the eaves are signs that Judson invested in making this an attractive addition to the neighborhood.
6. Randall-Hobbs House, 1882-1884
503 W. Galena Boulevard
This elaborate Italianate style house was built in 1882-1884 for Frank Randall. A later owner, Reuben Hobbs, built the carriage house and was treasurer of the Aurora Cotton Mills. Note the limestone arch over the entrance and the paired brackets and panels under the eaves. The porch replaces the earlier entrance and side porches.
7. West Aurora High School, 1905-1906
(Benjamin Franklin Junior High, Aurora Christian School)
14 Blackhawk Street
This school was designed by Patton & Miller of Chicago, and built in 1905-1906. Its facilities included a gymnasium, bike room, auditorium, classrooms and laboratories. The western additions date from 1925 and 1951.
8. Dr. C.D. Mowry House, 1886
504 W. New York Street
Dr. Mowry spent over $8,000 to have this Gothic Revival style house built in 1886. The steeply pitched rooflines and arched windows give the house an ecclesiastical tone. Mowry had one of the region’s largest surgical practices and was appointed U.S. Pension Examining Surgeon in 1887.
9. Lucius P. Hoyt House, 1867-1870
552 W. New York Street
This Italianate style house was built for Hoyt between 1867-1870. He and his brother founded Hoyt Brothers, a major woodworking machinery company. The home was moved from the northwest corner of Galena and May Street when Wesley Church was built. The current front porch replaced a narrow entry porch.
10. John Coster House, 1890-91
110 N. May Street
Between 1890-1891, Reuben Hobbs built this house and sold it to Coster. Note the variety of shaped shingles in the gable and the rope edged moldings along the front bay’s hipped roof.
11. Tanner/Dembner House, c. 1894
116 N. May Street
Oscar Tanner built this house circa 1894, with Wolf Dembner, a dry goods merchant as one of its earliest occupants. The second floor flares out above the first floor, and is supported by quarter circle brackets.
12. Oscar Tanner House, 1891
120 N. May Street
Tanner had this Queen Anne style house built in 1891. Note its projecting bays, second floor overhang and recessed porch.
13. 523 Spruce Street, 1892
Two View Street residents, J.G. Ralph, a builder, and Everett Hall had this Queen Anne style house built circa 1892. Note the diagonal board trim between the front windows and the shaped gable shingles. One of its earliest occupants was Arthur V. Greenman, superintendent of the West Side Schools.