On the Record

Play time

On the Record with Audrey King

DeKALB – Laura Ingalls Wilder is famous for having lived in the “Little House on the Prairie.” Ellwood House Museum is famous for having a little house of its own.

To celebrate 125 years of play at the Ellwood version, Lunch at the Little House will be held from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 8, at the museum at 409 N. First St. in DeKalb. The event is free, but advance registration is required at www.ellwoodhouse.org.

During the event, families are invited to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the grounds of Ellwood Park, play antique games, play in the Little House and make hand-churned ice cream.

Lunch at the Little House is the second of eight monthly programs part of Ellwood Explorers, the museum’s youth educational series. Programs are free of charge, last approximately one hour, and will be relocated indoors in case of inclement weather.

Any child age 12 and younger who attends four or more Ellwood Explorers events will receive a Junior Curator Club membership. Included is a subscription to the museum’s quarterly youth newsletter, four free mansion tour tickets, 10% discount on all items in the museum shop and three free tickets to attend “It’s a Wonderful Life” presented by the Stage Coach Players on Dec. 14.

MidWeek Reporter Katrina Milton met with Audrey King, curator of education and interpretation at the Ellwood House, about the upcoming Lunch at the Little House event.

Milton: What do you do at the Ellwood House Museum?

King: I am curator of education and interpretation. We have a staff of four at the museum, so we’re all jacks-of-all-trades. I work with the museum collection, education projects, the Brown Bag Lunch presentations, volunteer coordination, Ellwood Explorers and planning and organizing school field trips.

Milton: Tell me about the Ellwood House.

King: The Ellwood House was built in 1879 for Isaac Ellwood and his wife, Harriet. He was one of the barbed wire barons in DeKalb. He made his fortune from barbed wire in the late 1800s. About 90% of the objects in the mansion are original. The House shows what life was like for a wealthy family in the early 1900s.

Milton: Tell me about the Little House.

King: The Little House was built in 1891 as a parade float advertisement for Patten Manufacturing Co. In 1894, William Leonard Ellwood, the eldest son of Isaac and Harriet Ellwood, purchased the home as a playhouse for his two daughters, Jean and Elise. Years later, William Ellwood gave the house to his youngest brother Perry Ellwood for his children to play in. As children outgrew playing in the house, the Little House was passed on from family to family through the years. In 1975, the Little House returned to the Ellwood House [grounds] for all children in the community to enjoy.

Milton: What will Lunch at the Little House include?

King: Lunch at the Little House is a free event, open to all ages but geared toward elementary school-aged children. Registration is required only so we know how many people to expect. Families can bring a picnic lunch and eat on the lawn. Tables and chairs will also be set up. Children can play in the Little House and we will have historic games to play including croquet, yo-yos, hula hoops, the game of graces and hopscotch. Attendees will also be able to make and churn their own ice cream. Tours of the Ellwood House are not included with the event, but regularly scheduled tours will be at 1, 2 and 3 p.m.

Milton: What do you think is the appeal of the Little House?

King: I think boys, girls, everyone loves the Little House. It has a fantasy dream house feel to it. We’re so lucky to have it and to have families take such good care of it through the years. I’m so excited to see children playing in the Little House. It begs for imaginary play. It truly is a DeKalb landmark. People take photos in front of it for prom and weddings. It’s part of the collective memory of DeKalb.

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