"When we build, let us think that we build forever."
~John Ruskin, c.1890
Shaping the Future, Preserving the Past
Almost all homeowners have some degree of pride in their homes, but when you start seeing people take pride in their neighborhood then something bigger is starting to happen. Pride in your neighbor's home, as well as your own is one of the building blocks for creating a sense of of place and community.
Since 1981, the Gifford Park Association's Historic Elgin House Tours have been - among other things- an attempt to create those building blocks. GPA's efforts have been joined by other neighborhood groups. Together we have showcased hundreds of homes, scores of city blocks, and dozens of neighborhoods.
We have demonstrated how preservation, rehabilitation, and good stewardship help create desirable neighborhoods. We have inspired people to repair, maintain, and restore older homes - to retrieve these houses from neglect and the teeth of time. We have also celebrated homes that have always been lovingly cared for, homes that are examples of good design, and those that are the products of skillful tradesman and thoughtful ownership
The success of the house tour begins with pride in the homes, but it goes much further. House tours bring people together. The collective volunteer effort needed to stage a tour helps create a shared sense of purpose. Attending a tour is also a shared experience between volunteers and tour goers. Tours demonstrate to the neighbors that something special is going on here.
The neighborhoods featured by tours contribute to our collective understanding of the city. The proceeds from the tour strengthen our grassroots organizations and fund many other projects. House tours build a sense of place and community that no amount of tax dollars can buy.
We would like to thank homeowners, docents, sponsors, friends, and city staff who have helped put on these tours over the years. Most importantly we would like to thank the attendees that inspire us to do it over and over again.