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Ellwood House Museum to recreate early garden

DeKALB – The Ellwood House Museum plans to recreate a garden May Ellwood tended more than 100 years ago at the Ellwood-Nehring House.

That will be possible thanks to a donation from William and Patsy Lundberg, who have been involved with the Ellwood House Association for years, said Brian Reis, the museum’s executive director. Reis said Lundberg’s grandfather worked for the Ellwood family for years.

Reis declined to say how much the Lundbergs donated or how much restoring the garden – located south of the Ellwood-Nehring House, behind the carriage building – would cost. The 1899 Tudor home at 417 N. First St. in DeKalb once was owned by the son of the famous barbed-wire entrepreneur Isaac Ellwood. It was donated to the adjacent museum last year.

Both the garden and the Ellwood-Nehring House could be open to the public next year.

Reis said it is unknown when, how and why the garden was discontinued. He said historical evidence shows that the garden existed between 1900 and 1912, which is the target restoration date for the Ellwood-Nehring House.

“Historically, we know that May Ellwood was very interested in gardening and interested in that piece of property,” Reis said of the Ellwood-Nehring House.

Ellwood’s mother-in-law also was interested in exotic plants.

Reis said the new garden will center on a sundial; there is currently a cement slab marking where the old one stood.

Eight flower beds will extend from the sundial as if they were rays of the Sun itself, he said. The staff also will install a wooden pergola near the garden.

In 2011, Shirley Hamilton-Nehring donated the Ellwood-Nehring House to the Ellwood House Association after she determined that she was too old to maintain the residence. The house also has been referred to as the Perry Ellwood house.

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