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Westside National Register Historic District
National Register Historic District 1986
Historic Tour Stops
Begin: PACE Route 524 - Downer Place
End: PACE Route 526 - West Plaza, Galena Boulevard/View Street
The area was first platted in 1842 by Zaphna and Theodore Lake, two brothers originally from New York. They purchased the land from the government in 1835. The first house constructed in the area was the Lake log cabin near Galena and Lake Streets (demolished). In 1854 the area became the Town of West Aurora, and in 1857 merged with the east side to become the City of Aurora. Most of the structures in the district were built in the years between 1850 and 1920. Pioneers came first to settle, then those who prospered later moved to the Downer Place area from other neighborhoods.
1. Healy Chapel, 1926
332 West Downer Place
Designed by nationally known architect George Grant Elmslie in 1926, Healy Chapel was the first mortuary building in the state designed specifically for that purpose. Elmslie worked for Louis Sullivan for nearly 20 years, and their philosophy about richness of color, texture, and ornamentation is particularly evident in this building. It is listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places.
2. Hurd House, 1856
429 West Downer Place
Built in 1856 for prominent local pharmacist David Hurd, this house is an excellent example of the Second Empire style of architecture. Characteristic features of this style include the mansard roof and dormers. The single front porch replaced two original porches on the front of the house, one on each plane of the facade. The iron fence was added in the 1920’s. The top floor of the home was devoted to a ballroom. It is a registered Local Landmark.
3. Thompson House, 1863/1880
503 West Downer Place
This house features hallmarks of the Queen Anne style, including the irregular massing, variation of materials, wrap-around porch, and turret. Originally Built in 1863, it was remodeled to the fashion of the day in the late 1880s.
4. Mighell House, 1871
513 West Downer Place
This Italianate style house was built by Albert Mighell, son of Sugar Grove pioneers Ezekial & Lucinda Mighell. Note the multi-paned arched windows, brackets under the eaves, and the ocular or round window in the gable. The classical front porch columns reflect a later period. Around 1910, Joseph Stolp Sherer, grandson of the owner of Stolp Island, resided here.
5. Simpson House, 1906
523 West Downer Place
Le Roy and Bessie Simpson purchased this lot from their friend, Ira C. Copley, and began construction in 1906. they hired architect Ben E. Holden who designed the house in the Craftsman style. Ben and his brother Frank grew up in Aurora, attended MIT and then the E'Cole Des Beaux Arts in Paris. The features of the Craftsman style incorporated in this house include the use of the natural, textured materials, simplicity in design, flared gable roofs and recessed porches.
6. White/Todd House, c. 1892
535 West Downer Place
Olivia T. White, widow of F.O. White, religiously completed the plans of her late husband to move their existing house to 545 W. Downer and construct this more spacious home in its place. She resided there with her sisters, Mary A. and Emma Todd, long-time Aurora schoolteachers. The third floor housed maid’s quarters and a ballroom that accommodated 50 to 80 people.
7. Russell A. Colby House, 1910
536 West Downer Place
This unaltered 1910 brick home is an excellent example of the Neoclassical style. The two-story portico, with balustrade above, and the pedimented dormers are characteristics of this style.
8. Theodore Lake House, 1867
563 West Downer Place
Constructed in the Italianate style, this brick home was built by Aurora pioneer Theodore Lake in 1867. Lake platted the Town of West Aurora in 1842. The house has a coursed limestone foundation and limestone window hoods. The low-pitched gable roof is adorned with dentils and pairs of elaborately carved brackets.
9. Dr. John Pratt House, 1906
567 West Downer Place
This is a very unique Prairie Style home designed by architect Eugene Malmer. It features the low, wide profile, exaggerated eaves, and textured materials that characterize this style. the clinker brick on the first story is very unusual and was rarely seen before on a house outside of Pasadena, CA. Malmer may have been influenced by period architectural journals that featured the work of the California architects Greene and Greene. Notice the care that was taken to match the design of the garage to the primary structure. (Original windows were removed in 1998).
10. William Jobbins House, 1909
556 West Downer Place
This home is an excellent example of the Colonial Revival style that was popular in the early twentieth century. A 1909 remodeling of an older structure, the house incorporates detailing reminiscent of the mid-18th century. This home also has a third floor ballroom.
11. Crosby House, 1867/1897
55 S. Highland Avenue
Traces of the original Italianate style of this house are evident from the Downer Place facade. This house, which at one time served as a hospital during an influenza epidemic, was remodeled around the turn of the century into its present Neoclassical style.
12. Worley House, 1916
61 S. Highland Avenue
This home is an excellent example of one of the English Period Revival styles that were popular during the early part of the twentieth century. The Tudor arched doorways, simulated thatched roof, and stucco walls are typical features of this style.
13. Rauch House, 1922
67 S. Highland Avenue
Ellery Rauch built this Dutch Colonial style house in 1922. The gambrel roof is a characteristic feature of this style. The house is indicative of this mode of Colonial Revivalism.
14. Edward Pierce House, 1868
73 S. Highland Avenue
This home was constructed in 1868 and is in the Italianate style. Characteristic features include the brackets, modillions, molded panels under the eaves, and the tall narrow windows with heavy trim. The classical porch is a later addition. Notice the original two-story carriage house at the rear of the property.
15. McMicken House, 1867
564 Garfield Avenue
Decorative dentils and modillions are featured under the eaves of this Italianate style home. The balustraded entrance verandah is a 1907 addition to the house. The roof balustrade was included on the 1907 plans, and restored by the owners in 2003. The house was originally built in 1867 by William and Sarah McMicken , and sold to Lysander and Bessie Hord in 1883.
16. Frazier House, c.1885
548 Garfield Avenue
This house is an excellent example of the Shingle Style, which was first introduced in New England in 1879. Note the short round shingled tower with the conical roof.
17. 65 and 69 S. View Street
Two additional, larger, examples of the Shingle Style, both c.1885. Stylistic features include the use of shingle siding, recessed balconies, and large porches supported with classical columns. Benjamin F. Fridley built 69 S. View Street. He was the first sheriff in Kane County. Although illiterate, Fridley learned the law from courts and conversation, and became a state’s attorney in 1842.
18. Janes House, 1867
506 West Downer Place
Built by Nelson L. Janes, this house demonstrates the development of the Italianate style from a simply ornamented cube to an elaborately detailed structure with heavy carving, bays, and cupolas. Nelson’s son Herman continued to occupy the house in 1882 when his father built the Stick style house next door and moved to that location. The exterior has been meticulously restored, including the authentic replication of the missing side porch.
19. Copley Mansion, 1917
434 West Downer Place
Colonel Ira Copley was a six-term United States Representative for the period from 1911 to 1923. This Neoclassical -style building was designed in 1906 by architect Jarvis Hunt, and was completed in 1917. The interior of the home is built around a three-story grand staircase. The building is also listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places.