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NIU Foundation suggests relocating Annie Glidden house

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014 11:39 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014 11:41 p.m. CDT
Danielle Guerra - dguerra@shawmedia.com The Oderkirk House sits on the campus of Northern Illinois University at 255 N. Annie Glidden Road in DeKalb next to the Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center on Monday, Sept. 15, 2014.

DeKALB – Northern Illinois University Foundation officials decided the 113-year-old home a group of DeKalb County residents wanted to restore will have to be moved or demolished.

The message came from Mike Malone, the president and CEO of the NIU Foundation, which owns the house at 253 N. Annie Glidden Road and leases it to NIU. At a meeting Tuesday, Malone told leaders from the Annie Glidden Agrarian Society, who have been working on a plan to restore the home, that the foundation would not allow it to be restored in its current location.

Foundation officials offered to sell the home to an established 501(c)(3) charitable organization for $1 and contribute up to $50,000 to offset the costs to move it. Malone said there are not plans in place to demolish the property, but because it is one of the most valuable pieces of undeveloped land near campus, redevelopment could happen within the next six years.

“I have no idea what it will be,” Malone said. “But I feel that property will be occupied by a new building by 2020.”

He added, “In good faith, we couldn’t encourage someone’s investment in the property where it currently is.”

Agrarian society co-founder and Daily Chronicle columnist Barry Schrader, who was at the meeting Tuesday, wasn’t happy with the foundation’s decision. He believes moving the house would cost more than the $50,000 his group was prepared to raise. The agrarian society is not established as a charitable organization, but has partnered with the DeKalb County Community Gardens, which is.

“It feels like a monumental task to complicate things,” Schrader said. “It’s a daunting task. Not what we had in mind.”

The group had planned to restore the home its 1950s state so an international student group could use it; DeKalb County Community Gardens would have used the carriage house. Though he hadn’t had time to discuss the decision with the rest of the group, he said moving the property would take away from the heritage of the home.

Glidden, who lived there from about 1906 to 1928, grew asparagus, corn, alfalfa and raspberries there, winning a state award for her high corn-crop yields. The NIU foundation bought the home and 4.6 acres for $200,000 in 1977 from the Oderkirk family.

Schrader said if anything good has come from the past two months working with NIU Foundation officials, it’s that the roof was restored so the house will be protected during the winter.

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