Architecture -
Heritage and History

361 North College
©1972 H. Lynn Bohon

As Built by William J. Quinlan

Mr. W.B. Chambers has purchased the north half of the Mound, near Dr. Ira N. Barnes' residence, from Mr. W.J. Quinlan, and as soon as the weather will permit he will proceed to put up a handsome frame dwelling which will cost in the neighborhood of $6,000. Mr. Quinlan who owns the south half of the Mound will next year build a dwelling similar to the one put up this season by Mr. Chambers, and both will be separated only by a carriage drive. The dwelling on the north half will face south and east and other one on the south half will face north and east, and both will be so constructed that nearly one-half of each dwelling can be plainly seen by any person looking west on North street. After the dwellings are built the grounds surrounding them will be greatly beautified and made one of the most attractive spots in our booming city.

The Daily Republican (Decatur), 29 Mar 1881

Completion of Wm. J. Quinlan's New Residence

There is no town or city of equal size in this or any other state which can boast of as many fine residences as Decatur. They are the subject of remark by every stranger who visits our city, and they have done much to give Decatur a reputation abroad. Consequently, every good house that is added from year to year helps to make our city of greater importance, and to that extent is of interest and of value to every citizen of the place.

The fine new residence of Mr. W.J. Quinlan, which occupies the south half of the square so familiarly known to all residents of Decatur as "the mound," is about completed, and as it is of a style new to our city a brief description of it will be of interest to our readers. The building is of frame, and of a style of architecture combining the Queen Anne and the Elizabethan.

The main front is towards the east, looking down North street, while wide windows and ample porches on the south give to the approach from College street all the appearance of another front. The general impression to the beholder from the outside is that of an immense cottage, with many gables, dormer windows, verandas and balconies, all making up an ensemble that is most pleasing to the eye.

Entering from the wide porch at the front, through a vestibule, the visitor finds himself in a spacious hall 16 feet wide, 22 feet long, running half way through the building. To the right is a fireplace, with carved oak mantel and handsome broze tile. The finish of the hall is in oak, most elegantly polished, while the door is of inlaid wood of a most tasteful design. To the right opens a library - the most cheerful room with the same finish but of a different design. On the left of the hall open the double parlors, connected with each other by sliding doors. The front parlor is finished in birdseye and curled maple, while the back parlor is in cherry - both rooms being particularly noticeable for their rich though plain ornamentation. In the rear of the hall, and opening from it, is the dining room, 16x23 feet in size, with its fireplace and rich mahogany mantel - the latter to match the furniture with which it is to be supplied. This room also has an inlaid floor. The kitchen is placed on the northwest corner of this floor, and entirely cut off from every other portion of the house, being separated from the dining room by the butler's pantry and a large china closet in which are closed cupboards, shelves, sink for draining glassware, and every known appliance for cleaning and keeping in order all kinds of table service. The kitchen is a model of convenience, large, airy and supplied with everything that can add to the ease and comfort of housekeeping.

From the hall already described springs the stairway, which is wide and easy of ascent. The newell posts and balustrade are of solid oak, and all are heavy enough to give an air of solidity to the structure while the finish of the wood in its natural color tends to keep up the airy and cheerful appearance which is preserved throughout the whole house. The second floor follows the same general plan as the first. There is the same ample hall, the same inlaid floors, the same beautiful finish of the various woods in their natural colors, though the varieties are different, the prevailing kinds being white and yellow pine. On this floor are six large chambers, besides a cedar room for the storage of bedclothing and other fabrics liable to become prey to the ravages of moths. The attic is finished in plainer style, and contains a number of chambers, together with a large apartment that will be utilized as a billiard room. Besides the rooms we have specified there is a perfect wilderness of closets in every part of the house, a lavatory off the library, a bath room on the second floor, and numerous useful and convenient nooks and corners in every direction. In the basement are the steam heating apparatus, the laundry and drying rooms, the coal bins, the cold air ducts, the pump by which soft water is forced to the large tank in the attic, whence it is distributed to all parts of the house, together with vegetable cellars, etc.

The plans for this very fine and handsome residence were drawn by Treat & Foltz, the well-known architects, of Chicago, and the entire work was done under the supervision of Mr. Conrad Krentel, the builder, of this city. It is doubtful whether anybody could have carried out the architect's plans with more precision, or could have done better in all respects than Mr. Krentel has done, and this specimen of his work will long be looked upon as a credit to his skill. The finishing lumber, the stairways, the wainscoting, and the woodwork generally, is from the establishment of C.J.L. Myers' Sons & Co., of Chicago. The finishing, oiling and polishing of the woodwork was done by the Decatur Furniture company, and it is doubtful whether that factory ever turned out a job of furniture with a finer finish than was put upon the woodwork of Mr. Quinlan's new house. The mantels and wood floors were made by W.E. Wheeler, of Toledo, Ohio, who is the only manufacturer of that kind of flooring in the west, and they are unequaled for beauty and durability. The bronze and glazed tile are from the well-known house of C.L. Page, Chicago, Ill. M. Troutman did the brickwork, while Henry Lunn set the grates and fixtures. Perry & Miller, of this city, did the plastering, and Wm. Boyde the outside painting. The polychrome tinting of the walls and ceiling was done by Abel & Locke - the first job its kind ever done in Decatur - while Korsmyer & O'Neill did the plumbing and gas fitting, and a better job was never done here. It will be seen, therefore, that nearly all of this beautiful work was done by Decatur artisans, and we all ought to feel proud of it.

Mr. Quinlan and his family will soon occupy their new residence, and we are sure that all their friends will congratulate them upon the possession of such an elegant home.

Decatur Daily Republican, 27 Feb 1884

* Above photo of Mr. Quinlan appeared in The Decatur Herald in 1903.


An important deal in Decatur real estate, consummated through the agency of J. LeForgee & Son, was brought to a close to-day and the deeds placed on record. It was the sale of Mr. W.J. Quinlan's fine residence on College Hill to W.H. Ennis for $25,000. Mr. Quinlan takes in part payment the Ennis property at the corner of East Eldorado and Jackson streets, the lot 80x150, valued at $8,500. Mr. Ennis will take possession of the Quinlan property in October. The dwelling is said to be the costliest house in the city of its size, being finished when constructed a few years ago regardless of expense. Mr. and Mrs. Quinlan will vacate the dwelling in October.

Daily Republican (Decatur), 13 Jun 1889

William J. Quinlan has purchased the Benjamin Dillehunt property on West Wiliam street, where he will reside.

Decatur Review, 13 Sep 1891

A.E. Staley Buys Ennis Residence

Secures Handsome House On College Mound for Home - Price in Neighborhood of $20,000 - Over $10,000 In Improvements Planned

Negotiations were completed by Wednesday morning whereby A.E. Staley, president of the A.E. Staley Manufacturing company purchases the William Ennis residence on College Mound. The deeds have been sent to Mrs. Louie H. Ennis in Los Angeles for her signature. It is all that is necessary to finish the deal.

The price was in the neighborhood of $20,000, the exact figure not being announced. The house has been on the market for several years at a price in that neighborhood. It is worth not only that sum but a good deal more besides.

a.e. staley

Mr. Staley expects to secure possession of the house about Feb. 10. He has had an architect from the firm of Childs & Smith of Chicago here already to look over the house and begin plans for remodeling it. The remodeling is expected to cost between $10,000 and $15,000, making the total investment in the house from $30,000 to $35,000.


The remodeling plans contemplate new porches, a porte cochere on the driveway to be laid out from the east to the west side of the road and some general changes in the appearance of the house. Inside it is to mean one or two new bath rooms on the second floor, a new bath room on the third floor, new plumbing throughout and other improvements. The barn at the rear of the road is to be turned into a modern garage. Its appearance will probably not be changed much. It is as substantially built as the ordinary house.

The lot on which the house stands consists of one-half of the block known as College Mound. That block is 240 feet square. The Ennis property consists of the south half of that block. The house faces North street. The garage is on the west side of the square.

Mr. Staley expects to make the house a handsome and commodius dwelling for his family, which consists of him, his wife, three daughters, two sons and Mrs. Staley's mother.


The house has twenty or twenty-two rooms altogether. It is remarkably well built, hard wood having been used throughout in its construction. For instance, the floors are of walnut and oak. Much of the woodwork and much of the frame work are of walnut. The architect who looked over the house said that it could not be built now for less than $40,000 or $50,000 on account of the extreme cost of the lumber in it.

The house has been unoccupied for three of four years, during which time the Ennises have been anxious to sell it. It was known to be a bargain, but the deal was too large for ordinary investors. Real estate dealers and others looked covetously at the place with the idea of building flats there, but they hesitated at the cost of destroying the fine old house.


The house was erected in the early '80's by W.J. Quinlan, who sold it to W.H. Ennis in 1891. Mr. Ennis added the barn and other improvements. When the house was built the best of everything and was put in it the finest of wood being used. Men from the furniture factory were employed to finish the wood work. The original cost of the hosue was $28,000. More was added by the Ennises.

Mr. Staley and his family have been lviing at 524 West Prairie which they have been renting since the came to Decatur from Baltimore. Mr. Staley waited to buy a house until he saw one he really wanted. They do not expect to get into the new house before next fall, the alterations planned requiring sseven or eight months to effect.

In the deal, Mr. Staley was represented by J.E. Strohm and the Ennis estate by F.L. Evans.

The Daily Review (Decatur), 29 Jan 1913


Architect I.D. Stine, who is now in the employ of the A.E. Staley Starch company, has completed plans for remodeling the Ennis house on College Mound, recently purchased by A.E. Staley from Mrs. Louie H. Ennis. The plans have been submitted to contractors who have already, in some cases, prepared bids on them. The contract may be let this week.


This will be the most extensive job of remodeling ever done on a dwelling house in Decatur. It will cost to exceed $10,000, possibly as much as $15,000, though Mr. Staley is not telling the figures. It will involve the entire reconstruction of the roof, the erection of an immense porch around three sides of the house and a porte cochere thirty-eight feet long on the fourth side. It will also involve the stuccoing of the exterior of the house and the laying of a steam main from the public line on Edward street up North street to the Staley house.


The reconstruction of the roof is an important feature of the plans. The roof will be curved and the eaves will be projected four and one-half feet beyond the main building line, even on the porches. The roof covering will be imported red English tile of the Rybold pattern.


The porch will be the largest in Decatur. It will be 16 feet wife from the building to the outside line and will be 14 feet wide inside the railing. Every inch of the porch will be fitted for sash and screen, so that it may be inclised in double glass in the winter time and screen in the summer. It will be steam heated so that it may be as comfortably occupied in cold weather as in warm. It will be floored with red tile six inches square.


The porch will begin at the northeast corner of the house, which faces east, and will run along the entire east and south fronts and part of the west front. A considerable part of it on the south and west will be devoted to a conservatory.


The stucco or plaster covering for the exterior will be white. It will be laid between beams finished in weather oak effect or painted. The effect will be marked and handsome.


The flues, of which four can be seen in the drawing, will be stuccoed, too. The only duty of these flues after the house is remodeled will be to take care of the fireplaces, of which practically every room in the house has one. The house is heated at present by a steam system, but Mr. Staley figures on abandoning it and connecting with the city main a block away. This he will have to do at his own expense, since the Decatur Railway & Light company has repeatedly refused to make any further extensions to residences.


The porte cochere will be 38 feet long and 11 1/2 feet wide, enough to cover a driveway Mr. Staley is planning to lay out through the property. This porte cochere, which will be large enough to shelter two automobiles at one time, will be anchored to the house and will also have heavy chains, partly for support but mostly for ornament.


Few or no decisions have been made yet about changing the interior of the house. One of the innovations will be a servant's parlor, a first floor room where house employes may entertain friends. On the second floor there will be one sleeping porch. The large porch on the first floor will be about three feet from the ground. It will be supported by concrete pillars and will be properly ventilated so as always to be dry.

Mr. Staley expects to have work started on the house within a short time now.

Decatur Review, 2 Mar 1913


©1972 H. Lynn Bohon

Mr. Staley died in Miami, Florida in December 1940.

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