Tearing Down An Old Landmark

The old J. T. Eccles residence, corner of Water and Berry Street. Torn down around 1912.
The old J. T. Eccles residence, corner of Water and Berry Street. Torn down around 1912.

Fritz Weingand, Jr., who recently purchased the old J. T. Eccles residence, corner of Water and Berry Street, and just east of the Masonic building, is tearing down this week and will leave the property vacant. It is understood that the lot, 30 by 55 feet, is to be sold for business purposes. Wood and Berry streets are now being paved and the corner is about 140 feet east of Main Street and will make a fine site for a business house.

The old Eccles residence is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, residence in Hillsboro, and it is rich with historical associations. It was built "before the memory of man runneth not to the contrary" Uncle Robert Mann who is one of the most reliable antiquarians in Hillsboro, can remember back nearly 80 years and he says it was built before he can remember. The frame is hewn oak, and the weatherboards and lathes were shaved by hand.

Between the weather boarding and the plastering the walls are filled with brick daubed together with ordinary mud, such as they used to daub chimneys with. The house juts out into Water Street, causing a jog of about ten feet to be made in the street. Tradition has it that the man who built the house had a gossipy daughter, something of a society girl and she made her father extend the house north into the street so she could sit in her window and observe who was passing along Main Street. The old Lyceum building, where Stephen A. Douglas once attended a dance, stood across the street, west and would obstruct the view of the afore said young lady unless the jog was made!

The late J. T. Eccles resided in this building for many years. He was a great politician, a warm personal friend of Lincoln and the Elder Richard Yates and they used to partake of the Eccles hospitality whenever they were in Hillsboro.

Uncle Robert Mann tells of seeing Lincoln in the Eccles residence once. He was sitting on the third stair that went up into the second story, his long legs stretched out to the floor. Mr. Mann has designated the particular stair Lincoln sat on at that time to Dow Baxter, the young son of Commissioner C. C. Baxter, has spoken for this stair which he intends to keep as a historical souvenir.

The Historical Society of Montgomery County still has the Abraham Lincoln's step mentioned in this article.

From the scrapbook of A. T. Strange

Article clipped from the Montgomery News – published around 1913.

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Jeff Dunn

Vice President

Historical Society of

Montgomery County

Advisory Board

Illinois State

Historical Society