Built By Barbed Wire: DeKalb Public Library/Haish Memorial Library

As the 150th anniversary of Joseph F. Glidden’s “The Winner” barbed wire patent approaches, there are opportunities to learn more about the prosperity and innovation that barbed wire brought to DeKalb, earning it the nickname “Barb City.”

At 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 6, the Glidden Homestead and DeKalb Public Library will host a “Built by Barbed Wire” program at the library, 309 Oak Street. This program, which is free and open to the public, will share the history of the building that was donated by barbed wire baron Jacob Haish.

Jessi Haish LaRue, Glidden Homestead executive director, will provide remarks on the barbed wire story in DeKalb and Jacob Haish’s gift to the community. Then, Emily Faulkner, DeKalb Public Library executive director, will provide a tour and “behind the scenes” view of both the original portion and the “new” portion of the library. Highlights include various historic plaques, nods to the original architecture, and new additions, including the automated book sorter.

On February 15, 1931, the Haish Memorial Library Building at 309 Oak Street was dedicated. Built on land provided by the city and financed by a bequest of $150,000 from barbed-wire millionaire Jacob Haish, the striking building with its Indiana Bedford limestone facade soon gained national recognition through an article in Architecture magazine. In 1934 the library received a mural by Gustaf Dahlstrom from the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project. 

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Glidden’s “The Winner” patent, the most widely-used barbed wire in the world, which also earned Glidden the title “The Father of Barbed Wire.” In September the Homestead will celebrate by hosting a barbed wire exposition show in coordination with the Antique Barbed Wire Society, and other community-wide events. 

For more information contact Jessi Haish LaRue, Glidden Homestead & Historical Center, at jessi@gliddenhomestead.org or 815-756-7904.

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