House sparkles through season

By Jessica Kalin

The Ellwood House is coming “Home for the Holidays” with its 37th annual Holiday House Event.

The event features a yearly theme of Christmas decorations and festivities. This year’s theme, “Home for the Holidays,” features traditional red, green and gold decorations.

Live music will be performed by NIU instrumental and vocal groups, and Santa Claus will greet visitors as they walk through the historic home.

Built in 1897, the Ellwood House, 509 N. First St., was the home of Isaac L. Ellwood, inventor of barbed wire. The Victorian home has undergone three periods of construction to garner the look it has today.

This year, the 30-room home will be decorated by local businesses, community organizations and museum volunteers in traditional colors and lights for tours held Dec. 4 and 5 and again Dec. 11 and 12.

Every year, the Ellwood House holiday event committee chooses a theme to give decorators a coordinating idea for the home.

“We want to keep the decorations fresh every year. Roughly two-thirds of our visitors come year after year,” said Gerald Brauer, executive director of the Ellwood House.

Each business has a different room to decorate. Wal-Mart, 2300 Sycamore Road, Pier One Imports, 2371 Sycamore Road, DeKalb Women’s Club and DeKalb Florist & Greenhouse, 2131 E. Lincoln Highway, are a few of this year’s participating decorators.

The main hallway, the rotunda and the staircases are being decorated by Tammy Tadd, of Tammy Tadd Designs. In addition to the traditional colors, Tadd said she added a little twist by adding a lighter color green.

“The Ellwood House provides fresh greens and trees, but other than that, the designers provide their own decorations with their own money,” Tadd said.

The second-year decorator said she is telling as many people as she can to see the house.

“It is beautiful, and there is a lot of time and money involved,” Tadd said.

About 1,500 to 2,000 people come through the Ellwood House to see the home during the two weekends.

“People come to see very fanciful and elaborate decorations,” Brauer said.

The Ellwood House Museum owns an antique sleigh more than 100 years old. The sleigh will bring Santa to the visitors for pictures. Parents may take pictures of their children with Santa or photos will be available for a small fee.

Complimentary refreshments will be served and the gift shop will feature holiday cards depicting the historic Ellwood House.

“Home for the Holidays”

Where: Ellwood House, 509 N. First St.

When: 2 to 4 p.m. Saturdays, Dec 4 and 11; 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays, Dec. 5 and 12.

Cost: Adults $6, children 6-14 $1 and free for children under 6.

Source: The Ellwood House