A recent multi-year project for the Elgin Area Historical Society involved relocating and restoring a long-forgotten urban windmill built in 1922 by the Elgin Wind, Power and Pump Co. The windmill was formerly located in a back yard at 1310 Larkin Ave on Elgin’s west side. In 2003 it was dismantled and trucked to Hampshire for restoration. As the last remaining Elgin-built windmill within our city limits, the windmill was deeded to the Elgin Area Historical Society by the current homeowner in November 2003.
On September 7, 2013 the windmill was fully restored and now stands proudly at the site of its creation in Foundry Park off Route 31 in Elgin. The park was once the site of the Elgin Windmill Company, where the windmill was originally built. The Elgin Area Historical Society worked with the City of Elgin to have it installed for the public to enjoy. The official dedication of the windmill took place on October 20, 2013.
Elgin Area Historical Society volunteers put in many many hours disassembling the windmill, cleaning up and straightening all the pieces of the structure, painting it, cleaning the wooden water tank, and preparing the structure for installation. We wish to thank the City of Elgin for their cooperation and help. Also many thanks to Bryan Kinser and Kinser Crane for the use of their equipment during the windmill installation.
|The windmill installed with sign.
The wooden windmill tank is cleaned
Volunteers paint the structure
The rotor and tail vane
Windmill History in Elgin
According to Elgin historian Mike Alft’s book Days Gone By the house at 1310 Larkin Ave. was built by George Peck in 1922-23 for his son Richard K. “Dick” Peck. The mill provided water for the residence, which was outside the city limits of the time. Windmills were produced in Elgin for more than 60 years. George Peck was a department store owner and president of the Elgin Wind Power and Pump Co. from 1910-1935. Richard Peck was a pioneer Elgin aviator killed in 1931 near Wheaton while testing an experimental plane sponsored by the Chicago Daily News.
William D. Nichols and John M. Murphy entered a partnership to build windmills in 1883. Charles H. Geister joined them the following year, but by 1887 their company was in receivership. Nichols turned over his patents and factory to the newly organized Elgin Wind Power & Pump Company, headed by George M. Peck. By 1895, up to 50 mills and towers were being shipped weekly. The corporate name was changed to the Elgin Windmill Company in 1925. Rural electrification and the farm depression of the ’20s brought a lingering death to the local windmill business. The Woodruff & Edwards foundry purchased Elgin Windmill in 1943, and windmill production ceased about 1947 or 1948.