The Clarke House Museum in the Historic Prairie District is the oldest surviving domestic structure in the city of Chicago. The Greek Revival Clarke House at 1827 S. Indiana St. has a colorful history. It has survived two fires and has been moved twice.
It was designed by an unknown architect in 1836. It is characterized by a large portico supported by tall Greek Doric columns and a pediment. The Italianate finial and cupola were added in the 1850s. It opened as a museum in 1982 with period furnishings provided by the National Society of Colonial Dames of America. I loved the horse-hair upholstery.
Henry and Caroline Clarke built their house on 20 acres of land at 16th and Michigan Avenue in 1836, a year before the city was officially incorporated. In 1872, the Clarke children sold the house to John Chrimes who moved it to Wabash and 45th Street. In 1941, his grand daughters sold the house to Bishop Louis Henry Ford and the Saint Paul Church of God in Christ used the house as their parish hall until 1977.
The city of Chicago bought the house and moved it to the present location on Prairie Street on December 4, 1977. The house had to be lifted over the “L” Tracks and was set on a new foundation on Prairie Street. The Clarke House Museum is open for tours and is nestled in the beautiful grounds of the Women’s Park and Gardens.
The park celebrates the contributions of women who built Chicago. There are beautiful “Helping Hands” sculptures by Louise Bourgeois that serve as a memorial to Jane Addams. For more information visit www.clarkehousemuseum.org.
The Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance has an annual Fall historic street fair called “The Festival on Prairie Avenue.” The annual event takes place at Prairie and 18th Street. The event features many exciting attractions including: a main stage with entertainment, a menagerie of exotic animals, pony rides, a War of 1812 encampment, period fashions, a pie eating contest, food & tours of the Landmark Glessner and Clarke Houses. Artists feature a number of historic crafts and interactive art demonstrations. Exhibits include: Pottery, Ceramics, Candles, Knitting, Weaving, Glass Making, Textiles, Painting and Jewelry.
Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com
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