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J.H. Rogers, Four Square and the Bettis House: Sycamore, Illinois Part 4 January 28, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Houses, National Register of Historic Places, Prairie style.

Next door to yesterday’s David Syme House is the J.H. Rogers House, a peculiar blend of Queen Anne and Romanesque Revival styles. It has the obvious turret of a Queen Anne home while also having prominent Romanesque arches. The home was built in 1890 for Rogers, a respected dry goods merchant who settled in Sycamore in 1858.

1890 J.H. Rogers House

Across from the J.H. Rogers House is the c. 1900 Floyd E. Brower House. Brower was a Sycamore attorney who purchased the home and undertook extensive remodeling throughout the house. Brower practiced law in Sycamore for more than 50 years.

Circa 1900 F.E. Brower House

There are a couple of American Craftsman style homes in the Sycamore Historic District as well. Particularly of the type known as “American Foursquare“, which was a common early 20th century style (and derivation of Wright’s Prairie style) made popular by pattern books distributed by such mail order retailers as Sears.

Foursquare House at 413 S. Somonauk St.

The Foursquare House above shows a perfect melding of Prairie and Craftsman styles. The broad overhanging eaves, Roman brick (wiki by me) work and large porch are all Prairie elements.

1917 Wally Thurow House

The 1917 Wally Thurow House is another excellent example of the Foursquare style in Sycamore that is almost identical to the patterns distributed by popular mail order houses of the day. I like this house mainly because it has a more “hidden” entrance than the house at 413 Somonauk; hard to find entrances are trademark on high-style examples of Prairie architecture. If you look toward the middle of the second floor in the image above, you will see some wonderful stained glass work.

Thurow is credited with founding the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival, a popular festival indeed, at the house in 1956. For several years he displayed pumpkins on his lawn, until the Lions Club started expanding on his idea in 1962. Thurow is known as “Mr. Pumpkin”.

The Sycamore Pumpkin Fest, fun for the whole family.

Coming full circle we are back to a (flimsy?) connection to the man who started this post, J.H. Rogers. East of Somonauk Street , in the 500 block of Main Street is what a poster in downtown Sycamore calls the J.H. Rogers/Bettis House, but a plaque in front of the house calls the John Gathercoal House. Whatever its called the house was originally built in 1863, but not at the Main Street location.

1863/1887 Bettis House

The Bettis House is only one part of a bigger whole. It began life at the site of the J.H. Rogers House, over on Somonauk Street but in 1887 it was moved to its current location. At that time, the house that now stands next door to the Bettis House was split off from it. That house is now known as the Charles A. Bishop House or the William Phelps House. The Bishop House was built in 1854 making the Bettis House an 1863 addition to that house when it was in its original location. I could find no other connection to Rogers other than the house was once on the site of the current J.H. Rogers House. Perhaps he owned it at some point in its history.

1854 Charles A. Bishop House

Charles Bishop was a prominent Sycamore attorney who came to the city from New Brunswick in 1878. He eventually held posts as circuit and county judge.

Other Sycamore Posts
*Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Online Resources
*J.H. Rogers House: 1970s photo
*413 S. Somonauk St.: 1970s photo

Look for the final post on Dwight, Illinois tomorrow, the fourth in that series.


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