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Cobblestone Virtual Tour
Overview
According to research done by Elginite, Jerry Turnquist, construction of cobblestone homes can be traced back to the period following the construction of the Erie Canal in 1825. Although no one knows exactly who, or when, masons formerly employed building aqueducts and canal locks began turning their energies to the construction of these vernacular homes. Using abundant cobblestones and limestone of the area, they incorporated these materials into walls of buildings in an increasingly artistic manner.

Cobblestone Buildings
Many were farmhouses built in the greek revival style of the day. Others included churches, industrial buildings and even mausoleums. New York is home to an estimated 700 such structures, with the greatest concentration being found within a 60 mile radius of Rochester in the counties of Wayne, Orleans, Monroe and Ontario.

Settlement
In the 1830’s and 40’s many of these men moved westward. A number joined other New Yorkers who had settled along the Illinois-Wisconsin border in communities such as Beloit, Palmyra and Walworth in Wisconsin and Clintonville (now South Elgin) and Elgin in Illinois. With them went their preferences and abilities to construct cobblestone buildings. This practice ended with the Civil War. Less than 90 cobblestone structures are known outside of New York. At time, Elgin had almost twenty of these buildings. Today only 6 remain.

Whimsy
Dr. Michael Johnson wrote an article published in the Fall 2002 Arts Beat where he talks about the touch of whimsy in the setting of the stones, and then you remember this was the time of the Erie Canal, young Abraham Lincoln, and aging warrior Chief Blackhawk. Dr. Johnson says it was a slower and simpler time, and yet, if you are not careful, the viewing of these cobblestones may be the start of a new romance.

Further information on the Elgin Cobblestones can be found at the Elgin Area Historical Society, 360 Park Street, Elgin 847-742-4248. 

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