Ellwood House tours available


By Maria Ahmad

The Ellwood House Museum, 509 N. First St., is a historic site in DeKalb and offers tours for all ages throughout the year.

According to its website, the Ellwood House Museum was originally the home of Isaac Leonard Ellwood, a partner in establishing the world’s first barbed wire factory. He then became one of the richest men in Illinois in 1879.

“My favorite thing about Ellwood is that it is in its original state and provides a great historical perspective to the community,” said Cindy Capek, director of DeKalb Park District and member of the board of directors of the Ellwood House.

According to its website, the museum still holds many of the original furnishings of Isaac Ellwood from 1879. The house has also gone through many renovations since then. The mansion was built by architect George O. Garnsey of Chicago. Garnsey also built many churches throughout DeKalb. Between 1898 and 1910, the mansion was remolded after the Colonial Revival, the popular style of the time. The final remodeling took place in 1911 when the terrace and sunroom were added.

“I visited the Ellwood House during an art fair,” said Sumiko Keay, office support associate at the Student Involvement and Leadership Development Department. “The big, beautiful house was very different than everything else in DeKalb and caught my eye.”

The upkeep and maintenance of the museum is done through a partnership between the museum and the DeKalb Park District. The museum association runs the programming and owns the collection in the museum and the Park District owns the park and the home, Capek said. Funding is provided through membership funds, taxes and grants.

“The Park District is responsible for the maintenance of the building and grounds and utilizes tax receipts for funding,” Capek said. “We have also been successful in obtaining several grants.”