Despite weather, stair restoration for the Clarke House Museum inside Chicago Women’s Park & Gardens is underway.
Can you believe this house is 185 years old?
This is the Clarke House. Henry and Caroline Clarke began building it after moving to Chicago from upstate New York. They moved in 1836, although it wasn't quite done yet. It took longer to construct because Caroline didn't want that flimsy balloon-frame construction.
Caroline wanted timber. Caroline got timber.
It's a good thing, because that house ended up being moved twice.
The Clarke house survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 because Henry and Caroline decided to build way south of the young town. It's one of the few remaining pre-Chicago fire buildings downtown, and it's considered the oldest house in Chicago. (Sort of.)
The Clarke House Museum has been closed to the public, but they're reopening for tours October 20! You can see it even earlier during the Chicago Architecture Center's Open House Chicago. Can't make it? Well, you can read the story in Living Landmarks of Chicago. The Clarke House is the first of the fifty landmarks in the book.
I have a few copies, and it's also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, etc. https://tlt.rocks/lloc-fire
The late 1960's view from looking north at the current Chicago Women's Park Field House which was originally a Swiss Foods headquarters. This would show approxiatmely where the Clarke House Museum stands today.
(Richard Nickel photo)
Before it was Chicago Women's Park & Gardens
A little throwback from the late 1960's before many park concepts would be proposed over the course of the next 30 years. This would have been several years before the Clarke House Museum would find it's way back to the neighborhood and be placed on the site.
As detailed in Glessner House Museum's article, "famed architectural photographer Richard Nickel was instrumental in saving Glessner House in the 1960s. At that time, he also documented the neighborhood around the house, providing a rare glimpse of the future park site as it appeared at its low point – vacant lots or parking lots to accommodate the surrounding businesses...."
Chicago Women’s Park & Garden History in Detail
During the pandemic, Glessner House Museum Director and historian Bill Tyre took time to pen a 3 part story on the history of what eventually would become Chicago Women’s Park & Gardens.
It’s a twisting and turning tale that highlights, in reality, almost a hundred years of activity for it to become the cultural park, international destination, and a community hub it is today. From changes in the neighborhood, to vacant lots, multiple attempt at plans, to land acquisition, to moving of the Clarke House Museum, then 33 years to build a park, and finally the community effort to save what would eventually become the Chicago Women’s Park Field House.
Without further ado, Parts I, II, and III:
The Chicago Women's Park and Gardens - Part I
The Chicago Women's Park and Gardens - Part II
The Chicago Women's Park and Gardens - Part III
Have never had the chance to tour the Clarke House Museum inside Chicago Women's Park & Gardens?
Here is a wonderful and informative on-line tour made possible by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America...
This is such a wonderful addition to our Youtube channel!
Have you had the chance to visit Chicago's oldest house, the Clarke House Museum? While tours are closed for now, a beautifully insightful digital tour has just been released – made possible via support from The National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of Illinois, edited by Free Spirit Media and starring your favorite Chicago Cultural Historian, Mr. Tim Samuelson!
Click here for full tour 👉 https://bit.ly/2OEtiYA
Check out Chicago Women's Park and Gardens Advisory Council, Glessner House, Clarke House Museum and many other attractions and pick up some goods from our sister company The Spoke & Bird Bakehouse in .
Tomorrow's Architecture Crash Course, at 6pm on Thursday, 7/30, looks at the urban crisis that struck Chicago in the middle of the 20th century.
We'll delve into the myriad issues surrounding urban renewal and the rise of the historic preservation movement. https://www.chicagodetours.com/virtual-tours/
Preservation Chicago Landmarks Illinois University of Illinois at Chicago Glessner House Clarke House Museum Urban Remains