The elevator at Daykin, Nebraska shows a characteristic J. H. Tillotson design

The Daykin, Neb. elevator seems to match an unknown William Osborn photo

Story and photos by Kristen Cart

William Osborn photo ca. 1947

My husband and I took a day trip to look at some elevators in June, letting the kids off the hook and sparing ourselves their groans and complaints as we toured the countryside. Daykin was one of our stops. This J. H. Tillotson, Contractor elevator was built in 1947, according to my grandfather, William Osborn. He listed it among his previous projects when he was interviewed during construction of the McCook, Neb. elevator. As I went over the photographs for this post, I noticed, with excitement, that the photo matches one of grandpa’s unidentified photographs in every detail: The concrete driveway has the same inset from the corners, and the windows of the scale house match perfectly.  A mystery has been solved.

No one was about when we stopped to see the elevator, just before sunset. There was something beautiful about the scale house with its big, multi-paned windows, its blue trim, and its corner detail, with the elevator rising precipitously behind it.  I have admired all of Grandpa’s projects for their spare good looks.  I wonder how he saw these buildings.  It must have given him great satisfaction as he looked upon a completed project–or was it mainly relief? I know he loved tropical fish. He must have appreciated beauty for its own sake–at least a little bit. Was he too close to the elevators to see what I see? In certain light and at certain times, a beautifully done elevator takes your breath away.

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5 comments on “The elevator at Daykin, Nebraska shows a characteristic J. H. Tillotson design

  1. I don’t know what it is, but for me, “beautiful” is the word I use to describe these structures. That’s why I subscribe: They are so different from what I see every day in Southern California. Your blog takes me away. Sometimes I write short stories from photos. Do you mind if I upload this one to my Pinterest “Writing Prompts” board? All photos I collect are linked back to the original blog post when the photo is clicked. Please let me know. I feel a story with this one …

  2. […] and photographed it from all sides. The style was a dead ringer for the elevators at Fairbury and Daykin, Neb., and Linn, Kan., all J. H. Tillotson, Contractor jobs. But since I had no access to the inside of […]

  3. […] Another design element that seems to be unique to Joseph H. Tillotson’s Denver based company is the squat concrete scale house, a deceptively simple building with lovely proportions, as can also be seen with the J. H. Tillotson elevator at Daykin, Neb. […]

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