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Archive

Landmarks of the Barb City - Part 62

These photos of the residence of John M. Goodell — 806 S. First St. — were taken in November 2005. Note how the house sits low to the ground.
These photos of the residence of John M. Goodell — 806 S. First St. — were taken in November 2005. Note how the house sits low to the ground.

One of DeKalb's pioneer merchants was John M. Goodell, whose house still stands at 806 S. First St. His farm was originally encompassed by all of the land from the start of the 700 block of First Street on down to Taylor Street and from First over to the east side of Third Street. The Goodell family's origins in DeKalb County and in what became DeKalb Township and the city of DeKalb could date back to the mid-1830s, if historical sources are correct. On Page 6 of Section 8 of the &#8220Centennial Edition of the DeKalb Chronicle,” from June 6, 1956, it is stated that Rockwell Goodell - whose relationship to John is not specified - was in DeKalb County as early as the mid-1830s. He reportedly described this area as being &#8220The original Garden of Eden. As you walked through the fields you could hear the potatoes say ‘roll over and give me more room to grow.'” Next came Daniel and Dorcas Goodell, who are buried in the family plot in Evergreen Cemetery at South Seventh and Taylor streets. In all probability, they were the parents of John and his sisters - Diantha (Goodell) Huntley and Salina (Goodell) Huntley. These were the wives of Lewis and Russell Huntley, the founders of DeKalb in 1853 at the time of the arrival of the railroad. Wife Caroline had a biography John M. Goodell was never the subject of a biographical review in any of the various DeKalb County histories. His wife, Caroline (Bathrick) Goodell, was written up in the 1907 &#8220Past and Present of DeKalb County, Illinois” some 30 years after John's death. He was said to have been born in New York state on Aug. 3, 1823. The wedding of John and Caroline on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, 1849, purportedly was the first marriage ceremony to take place in DeKalb. Her parents, Nathan and Martha Bathrick, came to DeKalb County with their children in 1847 from New York. Caroline was the eldest of five. John M. Goodell was a farmer, grain dealer and merchant for more than 20 years, according to sources. The Goodell House - 806 S. First St. - was long thought to date from 1853, but might actually be four years older, built at the time of their wedding. Research by a recent owner brought the earlier date to light. The 1899 &#8220DeKalb Chronicle Illustrated Souvenir Edition” states that Goodell's earlier home, a combination store/house, had stood on the site later occupied by the Chronicle Building - 119-123 E. Lincoln Highway - site of the 1999 downtown mural. It went on to say that the Goodells' son who died as an infant was buried on that property. Mrs. Goodell's biography, however, says that all three of her children lie at rest in Evergreen Cemetery. The 1870 U.S. Census indicates that John M. Goodell's brother-in-law Russell Huntley lived with the Goodells at 806 S. First St. at that point in time. Salina (Goodell) Huntley died May 21, 1851, and is buried in the Goodell family plot at Evergreen Cemetery. Russell left DeKalb in 1877 for California where he died in 1890. He is believed to be buried in a small cemetery in Tennessee, although his grave site has eluded discovery. The adjacent home at 738 S. First St. is where Caroline (Bathrick) Goodell had come to live by 1892; her name is on that lot in that year's &#8220Plat Book of DeKalb County, Illinois.” Frank Munger - manager of the Glidden House Hotel in 1899, and a prize-winning poultry breeder since 1887 - was residing at 806 S. First St. by 1892, if not earlier. Question of style The house at 806 S. First St. is of the &#8220Upright & Wing” variety, according to the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency's video &#8220Residential Architectural Styles in Illinois.” It is, in point of fact, an early example of Greek Revival-style architecture, similar to - but also different from - Gurler House at 205 Pine St. The front is beautifully proportioned, with the structure set back a generous distance from the street. The fašade of the two-story upright section is asymmetrical, with windows and the door off-center to the right. Classically inspired trim accents the door and windows, with that framing the door being especially distinctive. Besides the trim, sidelights and a transom frame the door, with a bracketed partial pediment above the transom. The eaves of the gable and north roof are accented by pairs of brackets. Green shutters flank the four windows in the upright section. A somewhat unusual feature on the north fašade is a first-floor door centered between windows. This entrance is topped by a simple gabled roof, with wooden supports. There are no windows along the expanse of the upper wall. The wing is highlighted by a side-gabled roof. Facing the street is an inset porch, the outer edge of which is supported by two slender columns. Two pilasters project from the corners. A door into the house from the porch is flanked by windows, accented with trim inspired by the Classic style. A window with shutters is centered on the wall projecting to the right of the porch. The house in recent history Around 1985, 806 S. First St. changed ownership after some 45 years, with Gordon Dorn, a professor at the Northern Illinois University School of Art, taking possession. He immediately began extensive structural and decorative restorations. During the process of work in the second-floor bedrooms, fragments of the late-19th-century wallpaper came to light. Dorn had experience restoring smaller homes than this, he told me, but chose to live here himself for 15 years or so, due to the time and expense he had invested in the Goodell House. The present owners erected the Greek Revival duplex north of 806 following their acquisition of the historic residence. They did so in order to make the property - zoned multiple-family - more manageable. --- Steve Bigolin is an expert on DeKalb County history. Author's note: Readers deserve to know why my column has been on hiatus during the past four months. I suffered a mild stroke on Oct. 19, 2005, while working on an article. Since that time, I have been paying attention to rebuilding my health, which I have now succeeded in doing. Thanks to all who expressed their best wishes for a speedy recovery. Your thoughts and prayers were very much appreciated.

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