Elgin’s Nancy Kimball Cobblestone House saw one of its last remaining obstacles to becoming a new hot spot for art, education and community meetings fall Wednesday night. City council members unanimously approved plans to add parking, landscaping and a privacy fence.
That leaves only one more obstacle before the house can open for public use — money.
Renovations on one of the oldest buildings left in the city are now going on six years into the 174-year-old home. That includes more than $475,000 in donations and countless volunteer hours into the actual reconstruction of the space. But that’s what it’s taken to find yet another rebirth for a structure that was divided into small apartments and fell into disrepair before the city purchased the home at the behest of neighbors and the Elgin History Museum.
The property still needs at least $100,000 worth of donations and work before it will open, possibly, in 2021. City council members said the 78-person capacity home will be worth the wait.
Council member Rose Martinez said the home, at the intersection of Chicago Street and Crystal Avenue, was a highlight for her during her former days of driving a school bus.
“I’d drive kids by there and explain to them that this is the oldest house (on this side) of Elgin,” Martinez said. “The oohs and ahhs were priceless. It’s such a big part of our history.”
Council member Cory Dixon said the transformation of the home, including all its highs and lows, is the essence of Elgin.
“This property has a lot of historical significance,” Dixon said. “It is also a representation of the transformation we’ve made as a city. This property was chopped up into apartments. The neighborhood surrounding it was not the best. And since then things have improved in the neighborhood. That’s a reflection of Elgin. The city has improved as well.”
People interested in tracking the progress of the renovations or donating to the effort can do so by searching @NancyKimballHouseProject on Facebook.