Group fights for historic house


The Oderkirk House, 253 N. Annie Glidden Road, is more than 100 years old and used to be the home of members of the Glidden family. NIU leases the property and a local group is fighting for the university to repair the home.

By Keith Hernandez

Members of a local historical society will deliver the renovation plans for a vacant campus building to the NIU Foundation Tuesday.

The Annie Glidden Agrarian Society, founded by local historian Steve Bigolin and Daily Chronicle columnist Barry Schrader, met with NIU President Doug Baker and NIU Foundation CEO Mike Malone Aug. 14 to discuss the state and future preservation of the Oderkirk House, 253 N. Annie Glidden Road.

The foundation purchased the century-old house in 1977 from the Oderkirk family and the university has leased it since.

Renovations, moving

Bigolin and Schrader said water damage dealt to the house as a result of a leaking roof could have been prevented had the university followed its lease provisions and maintained repairs. The society requested permission to repair the roof and other damages as well as help with the cost before winter causes irreversible damage.

“We’re calling for them to bring it up to current living standards,” Schrader said.

A condition in the lease states the lessee “maintain the improvements on the premises in the same condition as found on the date of the lease.”

The university gave the Annie Glidden Agrarian Society 30 days to construct a plan for renovation, funding and possible use for the house, but did not discuss the possibility of funding the entire project itself, Malone said.

“The university cannot think of a plan that would warrant the kind of investment it would take at this point, especially given university finances … how much money we need to direct toward classroom activities and students,” Malone said. “To direct money to rehabbing an old house that we’re not sure we want to keep anyway just doesn’t make any sense.”

Malone said the foundation may be interested in financing the relocation of the house to another area in DeKalb. The foundation has no plans for deconstruction or other projects on the land, Malone said.


The Oderkirk House was built in 1901 by John Glidden, nephew to barbed wire inventor Joseph Glidden, and later inhabited by John’s sister, Annie Glidden, Bigolin said. Glidden is known for her innovative farming techniques and philanthropy, Bigolin said.

“For some time … the street wasn’t named Annie Glidden Road,” Bigolin said. “But because of her long association with the house when streets started being given names, they gave it her name.”

The society met with the DeKalb Landmarks Commission Thursday in an effort to declare the house a historical landmark, though the NIU Foundation will ultimately have final say over that, Schrader said. As a historical landmark, the house would be eligible for grants from the state and federal governments and local private foundations such as the Roberts Family Foundation and the DeKalb County Farm Bureau.

Funding gained through grants would go toward a $45,000 interior renovation by Clean USA, a $16,000 inspection for structural damage by Lisa Sharp Architects Inc. and other costs associated with the house’s preservation, Schrader said.

Deneisha Goolcharan, Global Student Organization at NIU co-president, said she is interested in using the house as a resource center for international students and organizations. Global Student organization at NIU is an organization dedicated to supporting international students as they adapt to life on campus and to exploring cultural differences and similarities.

“We want to be able to pull everything together and have just one common ground where everybody can go to,” Goolcharan said. “We want to be able to do community projects not just through NIU because [as] international students, we need to find a place outside, too. We have no family, so whatever happens here is going to be our family.”