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Ashelford Hall: Esmond, Illinois February 9, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, History, National Register of Historic Places.

There are more than 90,000 listings on the National Register of Historic Places. Not all of them are well-kept, I have come across a fair share of dilapidated properties, one of them here in DeKalb County. While far from falling down, Ashelford Hall in the small village of Esmond, Illinois is, to put it lightly, in a state of disrepair.

1925 – Ashelford Hall

Ashelford Hall was built in 1925 by William Henry Ashelford and it immediately became the social center of the tiny village near the DeKalb-Ogle County line. Medicine shows, vaudeville shows and entertainment of all types appeared at the venue. In 1928, a local men’s club began meeting in the hall, this on the heels of the South Grove Grange meeting at the location from its 1925 opening.

Ashelford Hall has a unique wedge shape

The building is constructed from concrete block, popular from about 1905-1930, and has a unique wedge shape. This was probably to accommodate the lot it stands on. A train depot was once located to its south as were diagonally-laid railroad tracks. The depot and tracks are now gone, as are the buildings that once surrounded the area, but the wedge shaped Ashelford Hall remains.

The wedge shape is the result of angled railroad tracks that once faced this side of the building.

The 1995 National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form states that Ashelford Hall’s current function is a “work in progress”. When I visited last year it appeared that not much progress had been made. The interior seemed to be serving as a storage area, and there was debris about the grounds as well as broken windows. Alas, historic preservation is an expensive endeavor, at least it’s still standing. If you look at the photos linked at the end of the page, you will see there isn’t much difference between the building’s 1995 and 2007 appearance. A good thing, depending on how you look at it I suppose.

The interior was serving as a garage as of early 2007.

As a credit, the nomination form, which is linked below, is nearly encyclopedic in its coverage of the building and the history of Esmond. Hope to see this building put to some good use and receive the restoration it deserves. It would be nice to see music or theater once again echo through Ashelford Hall.

Online Resources
*Wikipedia: Ashelford Hall, Esmond, Illinois (both by me, for you)
*Ashelford Hall: National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form
*Ashelford Hall: Old Photos (NRHP archives) – 1995: 1, 2, 3; Detail 1, Detail 2

Tomorrow we begin a journey into architectural history with the first of an eight part series looking at some of the important sites in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Illinois.


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