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Glessner Museum Tour   June 11, 2017

Traipsing around in 90-degree heat, we saw seven of the nine properties on this excellent tour.
Summaries below are paraphrased, and in some cases quoted, from the tour book, “A Walk through Time,” distributed by the Glessner House Museum (2017) (1800 S. Prairie Ave, Chicago).

Glessner House Museum
 

(1800 S. Prairie Ave.)
The house was built for John and Frances Glessner and designed by Henry Hobson Richardson in 1885. The Glessners occupied the house in late 1887. It features “rugged granite walls, minimal ornamentation, and strong horizontal emphasis” in design and was seen as “a radical departure” from nearby houses. Also unusual is the floor plan, with “the major rooms oriented inward toward a huge sunlit courtyard, which also provided the occupants with a level of privacy unusual for an urban residence.” The building was saved from demolition in 1966; most furnishings in display are the family’s.
 

The Kimball House
(1801 S. Prairie Ave.) This was the home of William W. Kimball, founder of the Kimball Piano and Organ Company. Completed in 1892 and designed by Solon S. Beman, the house “portrays the pinnacle of refinement and sophistication of the time-the atmosphere of an Early Renaissance French chateau.” The exterior features “many projections extending from the building, along with a variety of window shapes” and a steeply-pitched roof. The interior features “rich wood surfaces” that reflect “the artistic interest of the Kimballs,” who collected Old Masters paintings” (many of them now at the Art Institute). The building houses the American Soccer Federation.

Joseph G. Coleman House
(1811 S. Prairie Ave.) This home was built for Joseph G. Coleman, a hardware wholesaler. Designed by Henry Ives Cobb in the Romanesque style, it was finished in 1886. IColeman sold the home just two years later, after his wife’s death, and it was converted to office space already in 1910. “The interior features beautiful oak trim and a fine entrance hall with paneled ceiling, massive fireplace and elegant staircase. The dining room has a decorative plaster ceiling, fireplace, and tall pier mirror.” All of this is hard to see today; the building (like Kimball’s next door, see above) are occupied by the American Soccer Federation.
 
   

Elbridge G. Keith House
(1900 S. Prairie Ave.) The house was built in 1870 for Elbridge Keith, who founded the First National Bank. Keith lived here until his death in 1905. “The home was designed by architect John W. Roberts in 1870 and is constructed of brick with limestone veneer on the facade. The formal entrance porch is marked by pairs of Classical columns and pilasters, to the left of which is an imposing three-story bay window.” The impressive interior “features a center-hall plan with large main rooms containing wood paneling, parquet floors, heavy cove moldings, and original Lincrusta wallcoverings” (Lincrusta, a deeply embossed wall covering, and Linoleum were both invented by Frederick Walton in the mid-nineteenth century).
The Carriage House

William H. Reid House
(2013 S. Prairie Av).
A three-story Classical Revival house that was originally one of several attached row houses, it was built in 1894. Designed by Beers, Clay, and Dutton (who built for businesses), this was “the first residence in Chicago to feature steel-frame construction and was fully fireproof with poured concrete floors.” The interior is largely unaltered, “and features handsome woodwork, nine fireplaces, and many original light fixtures.”
Seen below, the central music room benefits from a stained-glass dome that takes advantage of a light well running through the center of the house, bringing light to rooms without windows.
 

Harriet F. Rees House
(2017 S. Prairie Av).
This Romanesque was designed by Cobb & Frost in 1888 for Harriet F. Rees, widow of a prominent real estate dealer and land surveyor. “The limestone facade features finely detailed ornament around the front entryway, on the two-story oriel window, around the third story arcade, and especially in the steeply pitched gable. . . . The interior of the house features a grand staircase and beautiful intricately detailed wood mouldings. The dining room features a full wall of built-in cabinetry surrounding the fireplace.” The house was moved from 2110 S. Prairie Ave. in 2014, which must have been a sight.
 

Dr. Charles W. Purdy House
(213 E. Cullerton St.)
Built in 1891 for Dr. Charles Purdy, house physician for the Auditorium Hotel, by Thomas & Rapp. “This house features beautifully executed terra cotta details in the Renaissance Revival style. . . . Each floor displays a different style of window, and the cornice is richly ornamented with brackets, egg-and-dart trim, and dentil moulding.” The house has been “extensively restored by the present owner, and reflects the finely scaled detailing evident on the facade.”