The Glidden Homestead has recently been a topic in the news with the excavation of the Glidden brick barn floor being featured in the Daily Chronicle, Archaeology Magazine, and even out west in the San Francisco Gate. If you have yet to catch wind of the “Digging Up the Past” project, work is being done at the Glidden Homestead to restore the Glidden brick barn where barbed wire was first invented in 1873. The Glidden brick barn can be considered the monument for the invention of barbed wire, a symbol of innovation in the Midwest, the workshop of an iconic inventor
Eli Orrvar, an archaeology graduate student at Northern Illinois University, is the leading the excavation that is currently working to expose the original brick floor that was put in by Joseph Glidden back in the late 1800s. The real excitement surrounding the dig is the possibility of discovering artifacts that link us to Joseph Glidden and his time on the property.
“Finding a piece of barbed wire or something else related to that part of the barn history would be ideal, but since it was the wire manufacturing site for only a little while, that might not happen,” said Rob Glover, Executive Director at the Glidden Homestead, .
So far, flower pots and medicine bottles have been unearthed by the archaeology team, but with plenty more ground to cover there is much more to discover beneath the barn floor. The excavation is expected to be done in July or August, but the timeline depends on what discoveries are made during the process.
Following the excavation, plans have been made to fill the brick barn floor with cement and create a safer and more appealing site for visitors. These plans include constructing horse stalls where Joseph Glidden kept his horses, a Glidden print shop, and an area for barbed wire displays. The overarching goal of the restoration is to uncover significant artifacts that can be preserved and then to implement plans to improve the visitor experience within the barn. Those who wish to see Eli and his team in action can come to the Homestead to see the history being unearthed. Stay tuned on our social media pages to get updates on when the digging is happening.