Explore Elgin's Unique Architecture

East of the Park: The Evolution of a Mid-Century Neighborhood

10:00am and 1:00pm / Saturday and Sunday

Walking Tour Meets at the Fountain in Front of The Lords Park Pavilion

Our walking lecture provides greater insight on Elgin's unique architecture and is included as part of your ticket. The walking tour typically lasts between 60-90 minutes and includes about 1 mile of walking as you examine the exteriors of other homes in the neighborhood.



About Our Resident Architectural Historian

Author, researcher and lecturer Rebecca Hunter became fascinated with the phenomenon of mail order homes in 1996, and is currently engaged in the study of kit homes and agricultural buildings marketed from 1906-1982 by nine different companies. Hunter has sought these buildings throughout Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan; and in many other states. She has located mail order buildings in over 400 Illinois municipalities and in 29 other states.

Working with the Elgin Illinois Heritage Commission, Hunter located and photo-documented over 300 mail order homes in Elgin. Hunter's books, "Elgin Illinois Sears House Research Project" and “Beyond Sears: Mail Order Homes in Elgin Illinois from Gordon-Van Tine, Aladdin, Lewis, Sterling, Montgomery Wards and Harris Brothers are available in Elgin’s Gail Borden Public Library. Her books Putting Sears Homes on the Map and Sears, Roebuck Book of Barns were published in 2004 and 2005 respectively.  Mail-Order Homes was published in 2012. She is planning books on Harris Brothers Mail order buildings and Gordon-Van Tine barns.

Hunter has spoken at the American Institute of Architects, the Sears Home Owners Association, public libraries throughout the state of Illinois, and at numerous meetings of historical societies, clubs and associations. She was a speaker for the Illinois Humanities Council Speaker's Bureau for ten years. She has done historical architectural consultation for Elgin, West Chicago, Downers Grove, Joliet, Libertyville, Lombard, Berwyn, Crete, St Charles and Springfield IL, as well as Minneapolis and St Paul MN, Sylvan Lake MI, Hartford WI and Anderson IN.  

Articles about Hunter and her research have appeared the Chicago Tribune, the Christian Science Monitor, the Elgin Courier News, the Daily Herald, and numerous local publications. She has served as a consultant for articles in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Bungalow Magazine. Her work was featured in an article in March 2008 Cottage Living Magazine. Hunter is a recipient of the Elgin IL Mayor’s Award for Historical Preservation, Elgin Image Award and the Elgin IL Genealogical Society’s Heritage Hall of Fame Award.

Hunter is available for consultation about individual houses, for conducting surveys of municipalities, and for presentations, lectures and workshops on mail order buildings, historic preservation, architectural salvage and other topics.

An Architectural Historian, Hunter sits on the Elgin, Illinois Heritage Commission.