Issac Ellwood House

Issac Ellwood, bought into Joseph Glidden’s design for Barb Wire and the duo became mega-wealthy through the partnership.  The third principal mover and shaker in the Barb Wire world from that time was Jacob Harish.  The whole barbed wire movement between them all seems to have started from their joint attendance to a County Fair in 1873 where Lucien B. Smith’s original design was demonstrated.   These 3 gentleman and the subsequent investment and management of their financial empires plus their cultural generosity seems to be responsible for a lot of the way DeKalb was shaped.

The Ellwood House
The history of these gentleman and Barbed Wire is well documented and it’s easy to find through Web Search engines if that’s your interest.  In fact, here are a couple of links that can jump start you down this path.  But, my focus for this blog is about the buildings, not the people.

Issac Ellwood Wiki  

Barb Wire Society

Barb Wire Soc Ellwood

The Ellwood mansion/museum featured in this post was a Victorian style home built in 1879. The architect was George O Garnsey.Issac Ellwood Mansion

The home features a Mansard Roof which was popular with the French Second Empire Style.  The porch and strong pillars are consistent with Victorian and Gothic styles.

The home was updated in late 19th Century by architect Charles E. Brush to newly popular Georgian or Colonial Revival Style.

Issac Ellwood Mansion

This was not however, the original Issac Elwood Homestead.  That was located on 315 E Third Street.  Currently, you can see a picture of that house by doing a Google search for the address using “Street View”.  Don’t know if the home still exists based on a Daily Chronicle article.  But, it’s on my bucket list for the next trip to DeKalb. The mansion seen here was only built after Issac acquired his fortune from the Barb Wire business.



Day,night, good light or bad the buildings and structures of the Ellwood Musequm are pretty impressive. Located right off N 1st St. less than a mile north of the Lincoln Highway intersection.

The property originally consisted of more than 1,000 acres, and was primarily a horse farm for Issac’s collection of Perchoran Draft Horses: “Elwood Greens”
The Little House
Of course, I embark on no adventure without my trusty hound dog, who usually inserts himself into photographic moments.   In this particular case, Brody is sitting on the front porch of a Miniature Victorian Playhouse that Issac Ellwood acquired for his children. The house was originally built as a model for marketing purposes and was also used in parades as part of a float until purchased by Ellwood.

This gives you a better sense of the scale.
The Little House

Here’s another novel idea orchestrated by Ellwood. In 1905 he had a museum built on the property for his mother. Her playhouse so to speak. It was built by William S. Ralph.

The design was Colonial Revival and Federal and was used to house her person collection of artifacts and extensive collection. Harriet Miller Elwood passed away in 1910 and apparently left behind an impressive accumulation of heirlooms and highly prized books and manuscripts among other significant historical pieces. Seems like a reason to go there when the Museum grounds are actually open to the public.

Mrs Ellwoods Museum
Ellwood Silo

Another structure I find interesting is this Silo. I look at it and think Grain Silo, when in reality it was originally built as a water tower to supply the farm. The original tower was topped with a wooden tank and water was pumped via a windmill. The top was replaced when Ellwood began raising cattle in Texas and stopped raising and training draft horses.

Much of what’s covered here can be found on the historical plaques the museum has posted around the property. For your reference, and perhaphs a few extra gems, I’ve included photos of them. Click on the thumbnails to see a readable size of the plaques.
IMG3142 Thanks for looking.


Issac Ellwood House — 1 Comment

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