About O'Connor-Leetz Funeral Home
Originally designated as 204 Division Street (now, 364), this was the home of Alfred B. Church, a New York native, who was born in 1844 and arrived in Elgin as a young boy with his mother and stepfather, Gail Borden, of the condensed milk fame.
In his adult years he was affiliated in the real estate business with the firm "Grote & Church." This firm was responsible for bringing the David C. Cook publishing company to Elgin.
In the 1880's he helped organize the Elgin City Railway Company which instituted an electric street car system in Elgin. He and his brother Samuel donated the David Scofield mansion to the city for use as a library, provided that the library be named the "Gail Borden Public Library." Church also served on the Board of Education as city treasurer, and was a member of the First Congregational Church. He was also a vice president of the Home Savings Bank.
The building is a large masonry structure built for Alfred B. and Mary Peterson Church by Andrew Magnus in 1886-87, and is a blending of Chateauesque, Eastlake and Romanesque styling. Note the steeple pitched hipped roof, the expressive roof forms, and the finely detailed gabled dormer with fish scale shingles. The brick façade has brick lintels and decorative window hood motifs. There are four bands of rusticated stone belt courses running horizontally with rusticated stone foundation and window sill, and rusticated keystone in the arch of the west window.
Exquisite stained glass is featured with a Victorian porch and porte cochere on the west façade along with porch columns and balled spindlework screen beneath the porch, all of which feature fine Eastlake detailing. More Eastlake detailing can be seen on the second floor porch (just above the newer first floor addition in the southeast corner). This same porch features a sunburst motif.
The interior retains its splendid 12 foot ceilings with original wood doors, pocket doors, transoms, parquet floors, and three fire places on each floor. The original cistern remains in the basement, and well as original gas lantern piping, and select furniture. The hand-carved stairway banister, all baseboards and hand-carved wood detail remain in their original glory. This particular home was one of only three in Elgin that had a ballroom specifically built on the third floor.
The home changed owners several times throughout its history, and became the O'Connor Funeral Home in 1938, and has remained a funeral home since. Its more recent history includes ownership by the Homeier family operating as the O'Connor & Homeier Funeral Home from the early 1980's to 1990, with brief ownership as a corporate funeral home, and is now again in family ownership with Tom and Donna Leetz as proprietors of the O'Connor - Leetz Funeral Home.
Mr. Leetz has been a licensed funeral director living in the Fox Valley / Elgin area since 1980, and is also a practicing attorney. Mrs. Leetz is the director of the Historic Restoration and upkeep of the funeral home, as well as, details, operation, and planning of the business.