Why are some Quincy lots elevated above street level?

Many older homes in Quincy were built on elevated lots. Homes above street elevation made it easier to drain storm water and sewage. | H-W Photo/Matt Hopf
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Apr. 2, 2018 9:25 am

How is it that some city lots are elevated above street level (some 6 to 8 feet), and others are not? Was the street grid trenched into the land, or were the lots built up after the fact?

In some areas, homes were built up higher after terrain was filled in, but in others the streets were dug out.

"The street grades were both trenched and filled to deal with the irregular terrain, but the trenched sections are more noticeable," said Tom Fentem, a community planner with the city of Quincy.

Since many houses in the city were built in the 19th century, before modern plumbing and sewer systems, building a house above the street elevation had its benefits. Gravity was a benefit for moving stormwater and sewage.

"It was predominately for drainage of stormwater and sewage away from the buildings," said Jeffrey Conte, director of utilities and engineering. "Some of the houses predate sewers, so if you're going to throw your chamber pot out the window, you want it to drain away from the house."

How can your question be answered? Just ask. We'll quiz community leaders, business officials, historians, educators -- whoever can tell us what you want to know. Submit questions to or mail them to Answers, The Herald-Whig, P.O. Box 909, Quincy, IL 62306. Provide a name and phone number so we can respond or clarify information. Questions dealing with personal or legal disputes will not be accepted.

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