North State Street Historic District

History of Piatt County and the North State Street Historic District

 The origin of Piatt County and Monticello dates back to 1829 when James A. Piatt, Sr., the county's namesake and among the earliest Anglo-American settlers to the area, arrived and called the area Piatt's Point.  While movement was being made toward the formation of Piatt County, James A. Piatt, Sr., Major James McReynolds, Abraham Marquiss, and William Barnes formed a joint stock company to develop a village.  Piatt registered the plat in 1837 in what was then Macon County and Major James A. McReynolds named it Monticello, a reflection of his admiration for Thomas Jefferson.  Piatt County was later formed in 1841 with Monticello being its county seat.  In 1958, Monticello was incorporated as a town and city status was achieved in 1872.  Access to the community was greatly improved with the coming of the railroads to central Illinois in the 1850's and 1860's.  The Monticello Railroad Company was chartered in 1861.  In addition to better transportation, the widespread use of drainage systems in the area allowed agricultural operations around Monticello to expand.  By 1883, drainage was common practice and with the success of farming in the area, the City of Monticello was also a growing local center of commerce.  Despite the dominance of arming in the local economy and the surrounding area, Monticello was not without industrial success.  In 1893, Harry Crea and Dr. W. B. Caldwell founded the Pepsin Syrup company.  They were later joined in partnership by John Hott and A. F. Moore.  Dr. Caldwell's Syrup Pepsin, an early laxative, was one of the notable patent medicines produced in Monticello.  Later brand recognition products among the Caldwell product line were Fletcher's Castoria and Campho-Phenique.  The continued success of the company helped spawn the construction of the mansions along North State Street, leading to the street being tagged "Millionaire's Row."  During this prosperous time prior to the turn of the century, this area had the distinction of having the highest per capita income of any place in the United States.  Harry Crea sold his interest in the Pepsin Syrup Company to A. F. Moore, and Hott sold his Pepsin interest to Sterling Products company for $5 million dollars.  After several other ownerships, the company was permanently closed in 1984 and the main Pepsin Building demolished in late 2005.
 The North State Street Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 14, 1998 and is located north of downtown Monticello, just past the historic Illinois Central Railroad tracks.  The attraction of the neighborhood resulted in multiple family members building residences on North State Street.  Similarly, several of the homes remained in the same family for at least two generations.  The Moore, Dighton, England, an Hott families account for much of the district's historic occupancy.  Generally, the district's boundary follows the rear lot lines of those properties that face North State Street from the 300 through the 1100 blocks; however, there are five properties within the district that face the side streets of West Center, East Lincoln, and East Grant or face North Charter Street.  The North State Street Historic District is completely residential in character, with the historic resources including houses, carriage barns, and garages.  Included in the historic district are a total of seventy-six buildings, fifty-six of which contribute to the historic district.  Of the contributing resources, thirty-five are houses, fifteen are garages, four are carriage barns, and two are other outbuildings.  Of the twenty non-contributing resources, seven are houses, one is an apartment building, and twelve are outbuildings.  Six of the non-contributing houses, the apartment building, and all twelve of the non-contributing outbuildings are modern.  The other non-contributing house is historic, but has been altered to the extent that the integrity of its historic form and materials has been substantially diminished.  
 The contributing properties in the North State Street Historic District date from c. 1870 to 1948, and illustrate a range of architectural styles and vernacular building types.  The Queen Anne, colonial Revival, Craftsman, Prairie, Tudor Revival, and Gothic Revival styles are represented.  Vernacular building types including the I-House, T-Plan, Cross Plan, and Bungalow also occur within the district and in some instances have architectural elements which convey influences of an architectural style.  The Colonial Revival is the dominant style represented in the district.
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