Kane County History: The Art of Elgin's Cobblestone Reflections

Kane County History: The Art of Elgin’s Cobblestone Reflections

  • Editor’s Note: This article is part of a weekly series on Kane County’s amazing history. Today’s article was submitted by Elizabeth Marston of the Elgin History Museum.

Sometimes history is an art form. Sometimes artwork makes history.

In the case of the Cobblestone Reflections Community Art Project in Elgin, it’s a little of both.

The Elgin History Museum created the Cobblestone Reflections Community Art Project to give a greater awareness of the Nancy Kimball Cobblestone house at 302 West Chicago St. in Elgin.

Funding for the project, including artist stipends, came from the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission.

Thirteen artists submitted works for the project with the theme of reflecting what the stones have seen over the last 175 years. The reflection could be looking toward downtown Elgin and the bridge, or looking west into the historic Near West Neighborhood.

It could also be an image of the Nancy Kimball Cobblestone house at any time period since it was built in 1846. Cobblestones must be featured in some way in your finished piece

Three experienced Elgin artists judged the exhibit and awarded first, second, third place cash prizes. Judges were Jeff Morello, George Stephely, and Erin Rehberg.

The exhibit opened at the Elgin History Museum on Oct. 24 to a nice crowd of artists and cobblestone supporters. The silent auction of the artworks started at the exhibit opening and then went online for a week.

People from all over the country bid on the artwork, which brought in nearly $1,000 for the renovation of the Nancy Kimball Cobblestone house and a percentage for the artist.

The new owners will be able to claim their original artwork after the exhibit travels to Elgin art space lofts until Jan. 3 and then to the Gail Borden Public Library from Jan. 3 through Jan. 30.

Paul Spiller of Professional Inspections Services (at left) and a man named Joe.

The community art project is just part of awareness building for the renovation of the Nancy Kimball Cobblestone House.

The museum hosted a year-end open house to celebrate the completion of a number of construction projects, including a new roof, new windows, completed tuck pointing of the east wall and new interior framing.

The work of volunteer plumber Paul Spiller of Professional Inspections Services was recognized. Paul roughed in the plumbing throughout the building with supply and waste lines.

The museum dedicated IL Give Day on Nov. 27 to the Nancy Kimball Cobblestone House. Supporters donated more than $12,000 to assist in renovating the house, earning a partial match from the Grand Victoria Foundation.

The 1846 home was built for Nancy Kimball by her two sons, Samuel and William Kimball, both successful businessmen and mayors of Elgin. Nancy’s husband, Joseph, was an early Elgin settler, but died of cholera on his way back to New Hampshire to bring Nancy and their daughter, Ruth, to Elgin.

The house is one of six cobblestone structures in Elgin and anchors the historic near west neighborhood. When constructed it overlooked the Chicago Street bridge, an important crossing point along the Fox River.

The Elgin History Museum is working to repair and re-construct the home owned by the city of Elgin to be used as a satellite museum and community space. The goal of saving the cobblestone house is to build up the old neighborhood by creating a distinctive entryway landmark, encouraging neighborhood pride and identity, and demonstrating architectural preservation and adaptive re-use.

Exhibits, classes, programs, workshops, meetings and small receptions are planned for the building space when complete in 2020. The Cobblestone Reflections Art Project is an example of a community art project that could be exhibited at the Kimball House.

Work continues on the Nancy Kimball Cobblestone with future fundraising events planned.

For more information or to donate, please go to the museum’s website page: https://elginhistory.org/community/nancy-kimball-cobblestone-house/

Feature Photo Caption: “Nancy’s Cat” is one of the amazing pieces of art that came to be during

About the Elgin History Museum

The Elgin History Museum is housed in an 1856 landmark building known as Old Main that was once part of the Elgin Academy campus.

The museum has a staff that helps welcome visitors to the museum, educates the public about Elgin history and assists with research inquiries.

The Elgin Area Historical Society, which was founded in 1961, is a thriving organization that operates within the museum. The society has a board of directors with a mission that is driven to preserve and educate the community about Elgin history.

Read The Kane County History Series!