Brown bag event presents history of DeKalb County Courthouse

By Meaghan Harms

About 50 people came out to the Sycamore History Museum for its monthly brown bag lunch event Thursday.

The presentation was on the history of the DeKalb County Courthouse.

Sue Breese, Joiner History Room volunteer and Sycamore Library assistant, spoke about the changes and events surrounding the DeKalb County Courthouse, 133 W. State St., since the inception of the county in 1837 until today.

“We have a lot of original documentation at the archive,” Breese said. “Because we are an archive instead of a museum, we research through the material.”

Breese said Sycamore has been the seat of DeKalb County since the county was created. There have been three courthouses during that time. The first was built in 1840 and lasted 10 years. Construction began on the second courthouse in 1849 and went into commission in 1850. The third was built in 1904 and is the current courthouse. Construction is set to begin on an addition to the courthouse later this year.

The presentation also focused on the controversy behind where the county courthouse should be located. It has been suggested many times throughout the years, particularly from 1901-1904 when the current courthouse was being planned, that the county seat be moved from Sycamore to DeKalb.

“[Jacob} Haish and [Isaac} Ellwood of DeKalb each pledged $20,000, which is equivalent to about $400,000 in today’s terms, if the courthouse was moved to DeKalb,” Breese said.

After a back and forth controversy, the decision was made to keep the county seat in Sycamore.

The Sycamore History Museum hosts a brown bag lunch once a month.

“The brown bag lunch talks are normally centered on the current exhibit at the museum to draw a lot of interest,” said Michelle Donahoe, executive director of the Sycamore History Museum.

“I am always interested and come every time,” said Dave Woodin, Malta resident. “I enjoy hearing about the history.”

The brown bag lunch presentations are held at the Federated Church, 612 W. State St., during the cooler months and at the Sycamore History Museum, 1730 N. Main St., during the warmer months.

“Admission to the brown bag lunches are always free but donations are welcome,” Donahoe said. “Cookies and coffee are always available for free as well.”