Clarke House Museum

Before I talk about Buenos Aires, I’m going to spend a few posts talking about some of the amazing events that have happened in Chicago in the past few weeks. First, I’ll talk about the Clarke House Museum, then City Alive with Dreams, and then the next thrilling edition of That Belongs in a Museum. Then I’ll resume my discussions of my wondrous travels in the Southern Hemisphere.

Just before I left for my trip, we visited the Clarke House down in the Prairie Avenue Historic District. It is accessible only by tour starting at the Glessner House Museum Wednesday to Sunday.

Clarke House Museum, Chicago
Clarke House Museum, Chicago

Built in 1836, it is the oldest surviving building in Chicago. Right now it’s located in the middle of Chicago Women’s Park. It was built for the Clarke family from New York who had moved to Chicago when it was a frontier town. It was an extremely costly house to make, costing $10,000, a pretty penny in that day. The architecture is Greek revival style and it is symmetrical (more on that in a moment). Eventually, the house was sold to the Chrimes family, then the St. Paul Church of God in Christ. Eventually, the city acquired it. During its’ 175+ history, it was moved twice. At one point, it had to be lifted over an El track on its journey to its new home in a Chicago December. The hydraulic jacks froze so the house was left suspended for two weeks until the jacks thawed! Here is a photo of it.

Inside, the National Society of the Colonial Dames in the State of Illinois have provided period furniture and objects to give viewers a sense of what it was to live back in the 19th century. It’s quite richly furnished. There are a lot of beautiful wooden pieces, china sets, and many paintings. One side is the older meant for more day-to-day living like rooms for the kids to do their exercise. The newer side of the house has a magnificent dining room and living room with beautiful molding decorates the walls. The living room was used for gentlemen courting the young ladies of the house. It is festooned with conversational pieces like shells, ghastly flower decorations (my humble opinion), and books. Apparently, people could not talk freely so they would talk about objects before them.

There is a real commitment to symmetry  in this house. Notably, there are three windows running on each side of the house. However, if you are outside, you notice that the shutters are closed on the middle window on the south-facing side. When you go inside, you realize that the corresponding room does not have a window there! The window would have gone right where the divider between the dining room and living room.

Interesting building to tour! I look forward to checking out the Glessner House Museum next time.

That’s all for now!



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