The oldest house in Chicago all dressed up
Decorations in the Clarke house reflect the emerging holiday customs of the mid-1800s, including a small tabletop evergreen tree decorated with cranberries, clove-studded oranges and gold-painted walnuts. The house will be set to receive New Year's Day callers, as that holiday was more popular in the mid-1800s for visiting friends and family.
Prairie Ave. landmark
The Glessner house will be decorated in the grand Victorian style of a well-to-do family of the 1880s. Decorations include a large tree hung with vintage glass and paper ornaments, stairways draped in pine garland, and the dining room table elegantly set for the Christmas feast.
All of the above can be seen during regular tours of both houses.
Chicago history in our backyard
The Clarke and Glessner houses are important Chicago landmarks. The Clarke House is the oldest house in Chicago and it was built and inhabited by the Clarke family, early Chicago pioneers who saw the Chicago wilderness as a land of opportunity and prosperity.
Marshall Field, Philip Armour, and George Pullman too!
The Glessner House is one of the few remaining mansions on Prairie Ave. In the nineteenth century, Prairie Ave. was home to Chicago's richest men: Marshall Field, Philip Armour, and George Pullman, were the riches residents along Chicago's original gold coast. John and Frances Glessner were very active and influential in Prairie Ave. society. Both Glessners were founding members of the Chicago Symphony. The helped recruit the first conductor, Theodore Thomas. The also raised funds to build Orchestra Hall on S. Michigan Ave.
If you want to learn more about Chicago and Prairie Ave. history, consider purchasing Chicago's Historic Prairie Avenue by William Tyre, executive director of the Glessner House Museum. The book is available from Amazon.com and the Glessner House bookstore.