Prairie Avenue is one of the most compact, walkable areas of Chicago, and we’re delighted that this year we’ll be having a Jane’s Walk of the neighborhood. There are plenty of reasons to visit, including the site of the 1812 Battle of Fort Dearborn, and the “Gold Coast” of Chicago in the late 19th century – home to business and social leaders including Marshall Field, Philip Armour, and George Pullman.
We’re very fortunate that the Walk Leader will be Bill Tyre, Executive Director and Curator of Glessner House Museum.
The tour will begin at Glessner House Museum, an 1887 residential masterpiece by Henry Hobson Richardson, and now a National Historic Landmark. The design for the house influenced architects including Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, but caused consternation among the neighbors who didn’t understand its “fortress-like” exterior and inward-facing rooms resulting in minimal window openings along the north façade.
The tour will continue with a walk down Prairie Avenue, examining the exteriors of the other six remaining mansions on the street. Houses include those built for W. W. Kimball (Solon S. Beman, 1892),
Marshall Field, Jr. (D. H. Burnham & Co., 1902), and Elbridge Keith (John W. Roberts, 1870). Of special interest is a stop in front of the elegant row house for Harriet Rees (Cobb & Frost, 1888) moved in 2014 to make way for the new McCormick Place Event Center.
A highlight of the tour will be an opportunity to view the stunning Arts & Crafts interior of Second Presbyterian Church, the only National Historic Landmark church in the city of Chicago, containing nine windows by Tiffany and pre-Raphaelite murals by Frederic Clay Bartlett. The church sits in the heart of “Motor Row,” a landmark district comprised of dozens of automobile dealerships dating to the early 1900s. The Walk will include a walk past the Clarke House – Chicago’s oldest surviving building – constructed in 1836, one year before Chicago became a city. It will then conclude back at Glessner House.
The Walk will be on Saturday, 7 May starting at 10AM, and ending at noon. Registration will open later today (5 April) on Eventbrite, and I’ll post the URL here. There is no charge for the Walk, but donations are welcomed.