DeKALB – Take a trip to visit another barbed wire mansion outside DeKalb.
On Sunday, Nov. 5, Glidden Homestead will host the annual Barbed Wire Bus Tour to the Paul W. Dillon House in Sterling, narrated by area historian Steve Bigolin. The bus tour will leave from Glidden Homestead at 12:30 p.m. and return about 5 p.m. to DeKalb. For fans of history, architecture, restoration, historical homes and barbed wire, this tour is a must.
Seating is limited and tickets cost $30; $25 for Homestead members. The price includes a commemorative Barbed Wire Bus Tour book. To register or for information, call the Glidden Homestead at 815-756-7904 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Programs at Glidden Homestead are made possible in part by the Mary E. Stevens Concert and Lecture Fund.
The tour will provide a glimpse of life and living in the 1850s through the 20th century. Bigolin will point out how it fits into the history of DeKalb County, the history of the barbed wire business, historical architecture and steel production in the Midwest.
The Italianate style Paul W. Dillon house was built in 1857 by attorney Edward M. Kirk and his wife, Eliza. After working as city attorney, Kirk became a colonel in the 34th Regiment of Illinois Volunteers in the Civil War and was wounded in battle, once at Shiloh and again at Stones River in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He never recovered from the second wound, dying in Chicago in July 1863.
From the time it was built until it was purchased by Washington M. Dillon in August 1882, the home had 11 owners. Washington Dillon had run a hardware store with his half-brother William C. Robinson. But in 1879, they started the Northwest Barb Wire Company. Dillon had married Sarah J. Martin in 1873 and they had four children, Mary K., Margaret A., John M., and Paul W.
Paul W. Dillon was born in the Dillon house June 3, 1883. In 1901, he became the plant superintendent at Northwest Barb Wire Company. Later, he married Lucretia Blackman in 1903. After Washington Dillon’s death in 1920, Paul and his family moved into the home. Paul changed the name of the business to Northwest Steel and Wire in 1938. He ran the business in various capacities until his death on Feb. 25, 1980. The 116-year-old steel business was sold Aug. 16, 1988.
The Paul W. Dillon House, located on East Third Street in Sterling, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on Oct. 9, 1980, and the Dillon Museum opened Nov. 18, 1980.