Note to readers: Barry Schraders DeKalb
County Life column will appear every other Tuesday.
DeKalb's iconic Annie Glidden (1865-1962) was buried in
Fairview Cemetery just 51 years ago last month, while her farmhouse
at 217 Annie Glidden Road (next to the Barsema Alumni & Visitors
Center) has survived for 112 years. But it may not last much
John Glidden built the stately cream-colored brick house,
using bricks that had been hauled by ox cart from Milwaukee.
It is designed in the late vernacular Greek Revival style, also
known as an "I-house" in American architecture, according
to DeKalb historian Steve Bigolin who wrote about it in his book
"Landmarks of the Barb City."
Glidden's sister Annie took possession of the house sometime
after earning a degree in agriculture from Cornell University
and lived there from 1910 to 1930, except for a period she spent
in Wyoming. During her years on the farm she became known for
her "progressive agricultural practices, experimenting over
the years in the growing of fancy asparagus, raspberries, alfalfa
and corn," according to Bigolin's book.
Her sister Cora (Glidden) Switzer died in childbirth in
1903, so Annie raised her nephew, named Glidden, as her own,
although she never married. The boy died at age 13 in a tragic
drowning accident at a lake in Wisconsin.
The house was sometimes the setting for gatherings of the
Library Whist Club which Annie had founded as a means to support
the purchase of books for the fledgling city library. The club
continues to this day, 115 years later, but they now play duplicate
bridge, instead of the original whist.
Bigolin also relates a story about the dinner parties Annie
was fond of hosting in her home. Guests were invited out back
to the chicken coop to select the bird they would like for dinner,
then informed they would have to help kill and dress it for frying.
This humorous remembrance came to Bigolin from the late Michael
Malone, longtime owner of Malone's Department Store in DeKalb.
In 1934 the house was sold to the Burt Oderkirk family
which kept it until 1977. At that time it was threatened with
destruction for a proposed shopping center development and the
Northern Illinois University Foundation stepped in to purchase
Newlyweds Alvan and Alva Oderkirk at left are feted at
a wedding dinner by (from left) his sister-in-law Ida E. Oderkirk,
Alvan's mother Allene Oderkirk, grandmother Ida B. Oderkirk,
Galen and Burt Oderkirk, brothers of Alvan. This was taken on
their wedding day in 1934 in the living room of the house at
217 Annie Glidden Road, DeKalb. Note the wedding cake on table.(Photo
provided by Gayle Oderkirk Wueri)
Annie Glidden's home, later known as the Oderkirk house
at 217 Annie Glidden Road in DeKalb, is shown as it stands today
next to the Barsema Alumni & Visitors Center. The carriage
house is to the rear on the right side of the photo. (Barry Schrader
Annie Glidden is shown in her alfalfa field with her
nephew Glidden Switzer behind their farm house at 217 Annie Glidden
Road sometime around 1913. She raised him from an early age after
the death of his mother in childbirth.
(Photo provided by Glidden Homestead)