In 1857 a twenty-three year old Dr. Charles M. Wright came to Effingham County, Illinois. By 1870 the total worth of the 36-year-old “horseback” doctor was $20,205. In 1878 he established the C. M. Wright & Co. private bank in his former medical building in Altamont.
The town of Altamont was organized in 1871 and Dr. Wright purchased 5 acres from the Vandalia Railroad. In 1874 he built a two-story frame house, a barn and other outbuildings. He increased his holdings to 27 acres with boundaries of the railroad and the cemetery. In January 1889 the first house was moved east across Main Street. The Wright family lived there while their new brick home was constructed. Later the home that had been moved across the street became the home of their daughter Lotta, and her husband G. C. Dial.
Dr. Wright hired Architect C. H. Spilman, Edwardsville, Illinois to design the home. Copies of the architect’s plans, elevations and the “Specifications For Residence for C M. Wright” are displayed at the house. Dr. Wright used several 1880’s architectural journals and suppliers’ catalogs to plan his new home. They remain in the house.
The house is designed in the Second Empire (Mansard) style with Italianate style influences as evidenced by the Mansard roof, patterned slate on the roof, the dressed stones on the exterior corners of the buildings (known as Quoins), the tall windows on first story, the bay windows and especially the brackets beneath the eaves. The original plans also show wrought iron cresting above the upper cornice. This appears on a picture of the home from 1897, but has since been removed. The only other building in Effingham county on the National Register of Historic Places is the Effingham County Courthouse which was built in 1871 and was also designed in the Second Empire style.
The building contractor was Charles Hanker of Toledo, Illinois. He agreed to build the house for a total price of $17,965. The owner was to furnish the materials, which must have cost about the same as the contractor’s price, because the eighteen room brick home cost $35,000 to build. The 6,000 square foot home has 7 bedrooms and one bathroom.
The Dr. Wright House was designed to be self-sufficient. It was the first house in Altamont to have a gas lighting system, indoor plumbing and a central steam-heating system.
His son, Dr. Charles M. Wright II, MD, and his grandson, Charles M. Wright III, JD were the other two generations to live in the house. Furnishings and collections belonging to all the three generations remain in the house, and much of it remains today as it was when first built in 1889.
One of only two structures in Effingham County listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Wright Family home was left in a trust to be preserved, maintained and operated as a public institution by the trust department of the Midland States Bank. The non-profit 501(C) 3 Wright House Property Board includes the bank trustee and community members. Donations are tax deductible, and deeply appreciated.
We would like to ask you to please click on the donate link to help us in the continued maintenance of the Wright House. You can make a donation with PayPal or a Credit Card. If you would like to mail in a donation please send a money order or make a check out to The Wright House Property; NFP and mail to:
The Wright House Property; NFP
Midland States Bank
133 W. Jefferson
P.O. Box 767
Effingham, IL 62411
Attn- Charles M Wright Trust
Thank you in advance for your donations.