DeKALB – There’s but one chance all year to step inside the barn where the invention that put DeKalb on the map was born.
This year’s chance will come on Sunday, May 20.
The Joseph F. Glidden Homestead and Historical Center will hold its annual Open House-Open Barn event from noon until 4 p.m. Sunday, May 20. Visitors can take tours of the Glidden house and of the historic brick barn where Glidden invented and first manufactured his barbed wire design “The Winner.”
The large brick structure is located on the Homestead property at 921 W. Lincoln Highway in DeKalb, behind Burger King and next to Glidden Florist.
The Phineas Vaughan Blacksmith Shop at the Glidden Homestead also will be open and operating that day.
Roger Keys is a historic preservationist who has done much work on the barn and house at the homestead. He will help give tours May 20.
The barn is perhaps the most historically significant in the country, according to Keys, because it is where Glidden invented and manufactured the first practical barbed wire. The house was completed around 1861, and the brick barn was built between 1861-71. Glidden’s first barbed wire manufacturing office was located in the southeast corner of the barn.
Architecturally, the barn also is significant. It is one of the oldest barns standing in DeKalb County.
More than 100 people visited the homestead at last year’s event, many for the first time. The homestead was the first site in DeKalb named to the National Register of Historic Places.
The homestead is regularly open from noon to 4 p.m. on the second and fourth Sunday of each month, June through October, with special events in November. Museum tours are given from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Tuesdays during the season.
There are many new exhibits at the museum, including the opening of additional furnished rooms in the home. “Jessie’s Room” has been decorated with period items honoring the lives of the Glidden women who have lived at the Homestead.
“The Glidden Homestead is one of DeKalb’s hidden gems and an important part of local history,” board president Svetlana Henrikson said.
“Glidden’s invention is a true American story. His innovation not only affected DeKalb County, but it had far-reaching impact on the development of the American West and ultimately, the world.”
Admission is $4; members and children younger than 14 are admitted free. For more information, call 815-756-7904 or visit www.gliddenhomestead.org.