History

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Stonehouse Farm Eco-Retreat & Sanctuary is of a rare and divine natural beauty, untainted by industrialism and yet reflective of the technological innovation of its age. Nestled among mature hardwood forest, prairie, farmland and stream bottoms, the purity of the environment surrounding Stonehouse Farm is breathtaking. The Big Indian Creek meanders through the remnants of Ross Grove, an old growth forest which once encompassed 2500 acres in southern DeKalb County.

Matthew Nisbet, was the original property owner as well as the architect and builder of the famed Stone House that still stands on the property. The construction of the Stone House was begun by Nisbet in 1848, but wasn’t finished until 15 years later in 1863. Nisbet had a total of 600 limestone blocks delivered from the Ottawa quarry to the property throughout construction. It took 5 days round trip for an oxcart which yielded between one and five blocks per delivery. Sitting on 4 acres of land and with 2,500 square feet of living space, the house exemplifies one of the most stunning renditions of Greek Revival architecture made popular in the late 19th century.

Throughout the construction of the Stone House, the Nisbet family lived in a two-story log cabin a few dozen feet from where the house was to be built. The Nisbet’s oral family history speaks fondly of Matthew’s friendship with Chief Shabbona of the Potawatomi Indians. Chief Shabbona often came to the farm and log homestead on Saturday nights for dinner, trading deer meat for onions grown on the farm. It is said that Chief Shabbona regularly camped at nearby Coon Groove.

Since then, the property has changed hands and roles in the community numerous times, and Stonehouse Park opened in 1976. In 2011, the Park hosted 6 new music festivals and 2 new large recurring group events. Daren Friesen purchased the property in 2012 and now, in June of 2013, Stonehouse Farm Eco-Retreat & Sanctuary opens its doors to you. Come revel in a space of natural beauty where the body, mind and eco-conscious community can come together in the spirit of freedom, relaxation and peace.