Jim Hovis and his wife, Catherine, have a love affair
with DeKalb historic homes. They bought the house at 329 N. Third
St. in 1984, doing extensive renovation over the years, but lost
it to foreclosure, and it was auctioned this past April
a bank bought it for $366,000.
Now Hovis has another historic home for sale the
red sandstone house at the corner of Lincoln Highway and North
Probably best known as the former Elks Lodge, the home
dates back to 1897 when Dr. Edward Mayo built the mansion around
the time of his third marriage, the bride being Harriett Ellwood,
who was 18 years his junior and the daughter of barbed wire baron
Mayo had purchased the parcel from Russell Huntley, the
founder of DeKalb, whose log cabin stood on that spot, historian
Steve Bigolin said.
This historic mansion at the corner of North First
Street and Lincoln Highway in DeKalb is in danger of being lost
to redevelopment if a buyer is not found who would renovate it
instead of demolishing it for other uses of the parcel. It is
the location of the original log cabin of DeKalb founder Russell
Huntley. (Provided photo)
Fast forward to 1922, when the local Elks bought the home and
converted it for their use as a lodge. A large addition was built
on the side, which is spacious enough for banquets or other social
events. The Elks decided to sell in 1993, as they were building
a new lodge on Annie Glidden Road just south of the railroad
This is when Hovis came into the picture. He heard that
the Elks were closing a deal to sell to a developer as a location
for a new Walgreens drug store (now across the street). That
would spell the end of the historic mansion, and Hovis said he
just couldnt let that happen. He talked the lodges
trustees into stalling the sale until he could come up with the
cash to match the offer. After much debate and negotiations,
the Elks allowed him to buy it for $350,000.
Hovis nearly lost it when the bank decided not to grant
him the mortgage a week before closing. He scrambled to raise
the needed $270,000. By contacting friends to help with the financing,
he was able to meet the deadline and has owned the house since
Now that the building no longer houses Hearing Help Express,
it stands vacant and ready for a new use. Hovis would like to
see it renovated as a restaurant, and others have suggested a
bed and breakfast in the original house, with the addition used
for a banquet facility.
The biggest hurdle for commercial use will be the lack
of parking; there only are 13 spaces now. Some arrangement would
have to be made with an adjoining parcel owner for additional
The fear is that a developer will purchase and then demolish
it. DeKalb has lost several historic structures, including the
grandiose old post office building, which was located where Walgreens
is today, and the Jacob Haish mansion on North Third Street.
So unless someone comes forward to rescue and restore this
121-year-old mansion, it will become another casualty of redevelopment.
Hovis posted on Facebook this week that he will reduce the $895,000
asking price if the right person comes along to preserve it.
Only time will tell.