THEN & NOW

Photos contributed by Alice Horner What you will find here will be a comparison of the old photos and postcards that we have managed to find and the new, up to date pictures of the here and now. You can easily some very drastic changes and what some people call 'progress'.

"When Florence Downing Horner was just a girl (and she was born in 1906), Grace Bawden showed one of the drawings to her and said it was 'the Downing House before the cyclone.' Florence never saw it again and her only memory of it was that the drawing had a house, a piece of board fence and a sort of walkway.

For decades, these two drawings were thought to be lost. Grace Bawden died in 1940 and her brothers in the early 1960s. Their possessions were given to the Benson brothers and sisters, their close, lifelong friends who farmed the Benson family farm near Wacker. Well after the Benson children died in the late 1990s, these drawings were found in excellent condition in the attic of a chicken house on the Benson farm and preserved in 2001 by Vivian Downing Luettig, Florence Downing Horner's youngest sister."

This oil painting, titled “The Old Homestead,” is by Eva Belle Bickelhaupt Downing and is dated December 15, 1901.

It is in the collection of Marilyn Becker, a granddaughter of the artist. The scene is a building at the edge of the pond on the Samuel Preston property along what is now Highway 52. I believe it to be at the bottom of the hill, in what is now a grassy area and what was then the edge of the grove of butternut trees.

However, the structure pictured in the black and white photo of this property taken in the 1880s, well before 1901, looks to be a lot smaller and more like the spring house than this building. Besides the spring house was destroyed in the Cyclone of 1898. To further confuse the location issue, the layout of the pond was changed somewhat in the early 1960s about the time the highway was widened and raised slightly. This structure could have been further back beyond the trees way out of view.


   
"From the late 1800s to the here and now. Grace Bawden, a Mt. Carroll artist who painted from the 1890s to the late 1930s, painted this undated watercolor (in the collection of Alice Horner) of a path in Mt. Carroll's Point Rock Park which goes uphill to the south end of Oak Hill Cemetery, where the Mausoleum used to be. Alice Horner took the photo of this path in August 2002. Two of the trees on the right side of the watercolor appear to be young, but in the photo these same trees have been cut down (or blew down in a storm long before) and are lying along the edge of the path. The scene is a study in optical illusions. Both the painting and the photo fail to capture the steepness of the path, even though Alice Horner took this photo sitting only 2 feet above the ground. It also looks to be a smooth graveled path but in fact it's very uneven, with deep ruts and little gravel remaining. It looks like no one ever walks on it."

   
Clay Street in Mt. Carroll before it was paved, pre-1900. Clay Street in Mt. Carroll before it was paved, pre-1900. The Uriah Green house, at 105 Clay Street, is the house on the right with the cupolo. It was owned for decades by Harvey Loomer and Ellen Preston Downing; Ellen Downing died at 101 at this home in 1948. It was next owned by their son, Harvey Loomer Downing (II), and then by his son, Preston W. Downing, who owned it from 1953-2001. It has now been sold outside the family.

   
"Home of Mrs. Catherine (Hanse) Peters at 304 E. Prairie Street in Lanark, Illinois. Catherine Hanse Peters was the wife of Conrad C. Peters, who died in 1900. She had this house built in the summer of 1906 and lived in it alone until nearly the end of her life. Today it hardly resembles the same home. there is no front porch any longer and the barns are all gone too, except for one barn way in the back, which might have been part of their backyard neighbor's property."

   
Home of Mrs. Mary Franck's in 1901. It's located on Locust Street, probably the 500 or 600 block of East Locust. Glen Wise and his wife lived there in the 1960's. Looks like its going through a remodel.

Located right in Mt. Carroll, well toward the edge, about 3 blocks off Clay St. The local artist Grace Bawden did some watercolors here. The path leads to the part of the Oak Hill Cemetery where the mausoleum, which was torn down in the 60's used to be.
The later photo was taken by Alice Horner in August 2004.


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