The Ellwood House Museum is a historic mansion situated on ten acres of parkland in the heart of DeKalb, Illinois. The museum campus consists of seven historic structures (including the 1879 Ellwood Mansion and 1899 Ellwood-Nehring House), four gardens, and 6,000 square feet of exhibit space in the Patience Ellwood Towle Visitor Center, a converted and expanded 1912 multi-car garage. Originally built for barbed wire entrepreneur Isaac Ellwood, the Mansion was home to three generations of the Ellwood family from 1879 to 1965. In 1965, the Ellwood Mansion was given to the DeKalb Park District by Mrs. May Ellwood and her three children. In 2011, Mrs. Shirley Nehring donated the Ellwood-Nehring House to the non-profit Ellwood House Association. Today the Association operates the entire site as a museum.


The mission of the Ellwood House Association is to engage visitors with authentic examples of ingenuity and architecture by sharing the Ellwood mansion, gardens, and museum campus.

Core Values


Responsibly achieve our goals through historical accuracy and financial sustainability.


Preserve and conserve the historic structures, collections, and landscape entrusted to our care.


Serve a diverse audience through engaging educational programs, tours, and exhibits. 


Provide an outstanding visitor experience which fosters a richer appreciation for and exploration of local history and the Ellwood museum campus.


Our vision is for a dynamic museum campus, deep-rooted in our community, providing connections between the past and today, inspiring creativity, and sharing a sense of wonder.

Staff & Board of Directors


Donna Gable
Director of Visitor Services

Audrey Hale
Curator of Education and Interpretation

Mackenzie Luzin
Tour & Operations Assistant

Brian Reis
Executive Director

Scott Tews
Assistant Director



Destiny Bons
Historic Site Caretaker

Kendall Hampton
Selenia Rolfe Towle Teague Education Intern

Danielle Newman
William C. Lundberg Intern
at the Berg Garden

Allison Sutton
Collections Assistant

Alyssa Toma
William C. Lundberg Intern
at the Berg Garden

Anna-Marie Zurlinden
Tour Guide & Museum Operations Intern

Board of Directors

Kelli Bender

David Castro, Vice President

Timothy Conklin, Treasurer

Thecla Cooler

Mat Emken, DeKalb Park District

Steve Faivre, Director Emeritus

Lizbeth Roman

Rod Schairer

Carolyn Swafford, Secretary

Amanda Wielgus

Rachel Xidis, President