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Yesterday (Saturday, September 13th), the urge to get a peak inside of some of Elgin’s finest old historic homes was just too great to keep people away from the annual Gifford Park Association’s Housewalk. Although I don’t have any statistics, the sight of crowds of people standing under umbrellas in pouring rain waiting for their turn to get inside any one of the homes on the housewalk, leaves me believing that this years event must have been a huge success. I don’t think the rain kept anybody away.
It’s hard to pick a favorite with all the houses being lovingly and beautifully restored examples of their period’s architecture and decor. It’s going to be awhile before I appreciate my own humble abode after seeing some of these beauties.
This is my second housewalk. My first was Christmas 2007 where my sister and I walked the entire route in a snowstorm (along with everyone else). We so looked forward to this Septembers event because one can usually count on a beautiful, coolish, dry day in September but not this year. The rain never let up and came down in buckets all day long.
The volunteers and organizers of the event did a beautiful job ushering people in and keeping the floors of the homes of the brave souls who opened up these beauties to the drenched public, dry and clean. In most of the homes, visitors deposited umbrellas at the front door while volunteers ran the soaked articles around to meet their owners at the back exit, the volunteer him or herself getting drenched in the act.
It was an exercise in coordination that was a sight to behold.
Everyone involved did a first class job. This is a first class event. We had a wonderful time.
The following things are what I remember the most.
A 1917 prairie style home with so many beautiful rooms that even the cat had it’s own room with antique furnishings.
A 1874 Gothic Revival who’s ornate “wallpaper” turned out to be the owners artwork, painstakingly hand stenciled and multiple layers of molding with high gloss and gilded finish.
A huge picture window over looking the Fox River.
An adorable kitchen with lavender accents.
A powder room with the cutest, tiniest antique sink.
A staircase who’s one original piece was indistinguishable from the custom made replica that helped complete the restoration.
This is just the tip of the iceberg.
If you have never been on one of these house walks….please don’t miss the next one.
And thank you to the homeowners who risked opening their homes to us on such a rainy day and for taking such good care of these fine examples of Elgin’s history.
A HUGE Thank you…Thank you…Thank you to The Elgin Arts Commission, The City of Elgin, Sean Hargadon and the numerous volunteers for the first annual Elgin Walkabout, which was held on the 3 Saturdays of August 16th, 23rd and 30th.
I attended the event on the 30th and it was perfect in every way. There were 23 people in my tour and it was a beautiful day. I had never been in the gorgeous office building that houses the Elgin Arts Showcase on Division Street and when I entered to pick up my tickets for the 1:30PM tour I entered one of the most beautiful building interiors I have ever had the pleasure of spending time in.
The registration process was well thought out and along with the tickets, patrons received a goody bag full of interesting things about the merchants of downtown Elgin and coupons as well as an ice cold bottle of Elgin’s award winning water.
Our tour guide, Nancy, made things fun and interesting and along with our theater experience, we were treated to a history of the various old buildings that housed each venue.
The performances were professional and outstanding….every one of them. My favorite was the performance by Nothing Special Productions at The Elgin Public House, with the performance of the Janus Theatre at Al’s Cafe and Creamery, a very very close second. Actually, it was such a close 2nd that I waffled back and forth over who to vote for at the end of the tour.
Other performances and venues were by Face-T-Face Productions at an adorable gift shop called Lily Falls, Independent Players at a unique book store, Elgin Books &Coffee, and VEX Theatre at Ravenheart Coffee where the smell and taste of heavenly coffee complimented the theater experience.
Heading down the stairs from the upper room at Al’s, we were handed a ‘to go’ cup containing one of Al’s famous malts….YUM!!! An unexpected treat.
The Art show had some amazing artists and Yes….I did spend money. I couldn’t help it.
There I was…strolling DuPage Court on an absolutely perfect day, surrounded by Elgin’s lovely old buildings, nice people, & great art, while listening to a superb jazz band play fun tunes like ‘Meet the Flinstones’, after having a terrific theater experience, with my Burns Malt in hand……Ah….could life be any sweeter?
I LOVE THIS CITY!!!!!!
Please…Please do this again next year!!!!!!
Filed under: Downtown Renovation, Elgin Events | Tagged: als cafe, city of elgin, Downtown Elgin, elgin arts commission, elgin books, elgin public house, elgin walkabout, janu theater, lily falls, ravenheart coffee | 2 Comments »
Wow…I have not posted since August 7th. Hope you all haven’t forgotten me. Actually, I’m in the process of building a full blown community “Lovin Elgin” website. Since I am not a web designer and I’m learning on the fly, this is taking some time. I finally migrated all of my posts and your comments to them over to the new site which is live but not ready for public consumption yet. It’s still pretty raw. Still, if you want to go on over and have a look see, go to http://www.lovinelgin.com. Once my new digs are completely constructed, I will put html code here that will forward visitors to the new site and eventually phase this one out. In the meantime, I am brushing up on my html, learning css and trying to master a powerful web platform called Joomla. It should be a pretty cool site once it’s done.
Anyway….other Elgin bloggers are busy posting the happenings around town. Since FoxFireFest, I have not had too many “wandering around Elgin” days except for a dinner at Al’s last night. I do hope to get out to the Elgin Walkabout which appears to have been a great success in it’s debut last weekend. You can read all about it at the Elgin Walkabout Blog.
Another thing that has been on my mind is when the heck is Mad Maggies going to open…I am waiting with baited breath. You can read more on that and other things at the Downtown Elgin Blog.
There is much going on in our fair city and so little summer left to enjoy….get on out there while we have the chance.
Back on July 6th, I wrote this post about the virtues of having the fireworks downtown, the question of just what is happening downtown and suggestions to weave art in and amongst the shops to get people on the sidewalks.
A couple weeks ago, Mike and I finally did have that Burns Malt at Al’s (YUM!!!), then we decided to walk it off and window shop in the downtown area. Several shops and offices had flyers in the window and much to my delight was a flyer on The Elgin Walkabout and Alley of Art……YAY!!! This is exactly what I had in mind when I wrote that post.
The Elgin Walkabout is a series of street plays to be held at various locations in the downtown area on 3 Saturdays in August. August 16th, 23rd and 30th. The event is a unique theater experience designed to entertain and get Elginites out on those downtown sidewalks. After the walkabout, guests are invited to head over to DuPage Court, next to Al’s Café for the Alley of Art, an exhibition of works from various artists. Hours for the Alley of Art are 1-4PM
The tickets for the theater experience are $12.00 and a group will depart the starting point at 164 Division, beginning at noon, every 15 minutes as a guide leads them from one venue to another, to see short plays performed. For reservations, please call (847) 841-1713. And please make sure to find out more about this sure to be fantastic event by reading The Elgin Walkabout Blog. It’s an interesting read and has all the information you need to get excited about getting out and about downtown Elgin this summer.
Will you be out tonight celebrating the 25th Annual National Night Out. I looked on the City of Elgin website and all I could find as far a activities was “various locations” but not where, or when. Are you supposed to just sit out on your porch? Will you be out on yours?
“The skies were filled with dragon flies…sunlight was on their wings” (lyric from a Jim Post recording I heard back in the early 70’s….the name of the song escapes me)…but that lyric is a perfect introduction to this post.
We staked out our piece of Festival Park just before Starship came on stage, unfolding our tube chairs and laying in our supplies of water and snacks from the vending booths (what a spread huh???) The weather was perfect for an outdoor concert and I was entertained by the hundreds of dragon files buzzing like miniature helicopters above the crowd.
Startship was really good. I remember seeing the original Jefferson Starship in concert back in the summer of 1976. The music took me back to a simpler and more naive time in my life. Although lead female vocal Stephanie Calvert, was not a substitute for the legendary Grace Slick, she did a great job with her powerful vocals and showmanship. I really enjoyed the performance and after hearing Blues Traveler, thought it was Starship that deserved to be on the main stage.
Although I personally enjoyed the music of last years Buckingham’s to Blues Traveler, I have to admit. Blues Traveler did draw a crowd. The attendance at this years FireFoxFest for Saturday night out did last years and there were more young people there this year. I was initially excited to see Blues Traveler because I really really liked the 4 or 5 songs I knew of theirs from recordings I had heard, however I thought they delivered a 3rd rate live performance and maybe it was the acoustics but most of it sounded like alot of disharmonic noise to me and their performance lacked excitement.
I am just going to throw this out there and perhaps most won’t agree with me but maybe next year, the organizers of this event could look at Smashmouth, a group with multigenerational appeal and great showmen.
Also, the performance of the Elgin Children’s Choir was definitely missing from this years event….I was a bit disappointed in Saturdays entertainment once Starship left the stage, but the organizers of the event should be proud. Although my taste is more in tune with the 2007 Fest, this years was fun and successful and a good time was had by all.
(Just one more suggestion though…..double the port a potties)
And WHAT A PERFECT NIGHT HUH????