Ellwood House Museum to host annual holiday festivities

By Tim Ashton

DeKalb is home to a unique historic museum located at 509 N. First St.

The Ellwood House Museum is open for tours during the warmer months, but there are only three more special days to visit the historic site in December. The annual Holiday Open House at the Ellwood House Museum will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

The large property was home to three generations of the Ellwood family, who made a fortune in the late 1800s by investing in barbed wire, according to the Ellwood House website. In 1964 the family gave the property to the DeKalb Park District, and since then it has been operated by the not-for-profit Ellwood House Association.

The Holiday Open House began as a small gathering which lasted for a couple hours in 1967, said Donna Gable, director of visitor services at the Ellwood House. Since then, it has expanded to a weekend-long event and regularly attracts large numbers of visitors. The open house is different each year but always decorated for the occasion, Gable said.

“The mansion will be open, and there will be bosuns in every room or area to answer questions and give information,” Gable said. “The Visitors’ Center exhibits will be open. In fact, Santa will be in our Visitors’ Center; complimentary refreshments are there as well.”

The Holiday Open House will feature live music performances to give guests a dose of holiday cheer on Friday, Gable said. Located in the Visitors’ Center is the DeKalb Gallery, which hosts work by a number of artists. The last day for the current show at the gallery is Sunday; there will be a new show when the museum reopens in March, Gable said.

Admission costs $10 for adults, $3 for students ages 6 to 17, and admission for children younger than 6 is free.