The Glessner House Museum

Photo Credit: ChicagoGeek
The South Loop has a slew of new high rises and a scattering of bars and restaurants. The area has been an “up-and-coming” hot spot for some time now. However, it’s not only in our time this part of the city has become popular.

During the late 1880’s in Chicago, having a home on Prairie Avenue, in the now South Loop neighborhood, was a mark of affluence and social status. It was there that prominent Chicago businessman John J. Glessner built his family home in 1887. The Glessner House, which still stands on its corner lot on Prairie Avenue and 18th St., is truly a historic gem of the South Loop. The home showcases the Glessners’ progressive taste in architecture, eclectic affinity for art, and superb eye for good design.

The home was designed by Boston-based Architect Henry Hobson Richardson. Richardson neglected the popular Victorian aesthetic of the time period and designed the Glessner home utilizing a Romanesque style with a rather unique U-shaped floor plan. Unlike other homes, Richardson pushed the home to the curb and faced all interior rooms in the home toward the center of the U where they all faced a private green space.

Visitors to the Glessner House will be delighted by the family’s unique interior and pieces from the Arts and Crafts movement which the family had collected far before the art period was at the height of popularity in the United States. The home is full of many stories about the Glessner family, how their home was operated in the 1880s, how it was received by neighbors, as well as the history of the home’s various owners throughout the years leading up to its current state as a public museum. The docents at Glessner House are very informed and passionate about the history of the building which really makes a tour worthwhile.

Vistors may also visit the near by Clarke House, Chicago’s oldest building, located at 1827 S. Indian Avenue.

Basic Info:
Location: 1800 S. Prairie Avenue
Phone: 312.326.1480

Admission Hours & Prices:
Tours are Wednesday through Sunday at 1:00 and 3:00 p.m.
Wednesdays are free
Glessner House or Clarke House
Adult – $10.00
Student/Senior – $9.00
Children (ages 5 -12) – $6.00
Combo Tour (Glessner AND Clarke)
Adult: $15.00
Student/Senior: $12.00
Children (ages 5 -12) $8.00
No charge for children under 5 years of age.

The Glessner House is open for tours year round except for Easter Sunday, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.

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About Caitlin Fitzgibbons

Caitlin is an contributor with a bi-weekly column on people-watching in the city.

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