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Tour Information

Glessner House Museum offers guided tours of Glessner House (1886), a National Historic Landmark and Clarke House (1836), the City's oldest surviving building located in the adjacent Chicago Women's Park and Gardens. Tours are led by trained docents and last approximately one hour in each house.  All tours begin at our Visitor's Center located at Glessner House Museum and are timed so that the two houses may be toured back-to-back.

We are open year-round, except for major holidays.

Glessner House Museum
Wednesday through Sunday

at 1:00 and 3:00 pm

Clarke House Museum
Wednesday through Sunday

at 12:00 noon and 2:00 pm

John J. 'Jack' Simmerling Gallery of Prairie Avenue History
First and third Thursdays at 11:00am

Second and fourth Saturdays at 2:00pm

Pre-paid reservations required

view of prairie avenue


view of northeastern corner of roof against blue sky

Events Calendar

Check back often for details on more exciting events and programs!

See end of list for recurring programs, including children's events.

glessner house chimney marked with 1886

Prairie Avenue

Walking Tours

Upcoming Tours:

July 19, 2015

August 16, 2015

September 20, 2015

(Tours begin at 2:00pm)

Also available by appointment for groups of 10 or more.

Starting Point: Glessner House Museum

Call 312.326.1480 to reserve a place, since group size is limited.

$15.00 per person,

$12.00 for museum members

Explore the fascinating history of Chicago's Prairie Avenue on this two-hour walking tour through the neighborhood, led by Bill Tyre, Executive Director and Curator of the Glessner House Museum and author of Chicago's Historic Prairie Avenue. The tour will cover 200 years of history, from the Battle of Fort Dearborn through the recent rebirth of the area as Chicago's hottest residential neighborhood. Visitors will see historic photos of homes that have been lost and walk past the eleven houses that remain in the area. Tours of the John J. 'Jack' Simmerling Gallery of Prairie Avenue History and the incredible Arts & Crafts sanctuary of Second Presbyterian Church, featuring nine Tiffany windows, will be included.


Parking is available for all special events (NOT regular tours) in a parking lot located on the west side of Indiana Avenue, one block south of 18th Street.  Look for signs that read "MUSEUM PARKING ONLY." 


Fifth Annual Clarke House History Symposium:

Fugitves & Freeman - The African American Experience in Early Chicago

Saturday April 25, 2015

9:00am - 5:00pm

$30 per person / $25 for students, docents, and Illinois Dames

(Price includes breakfast and lunch)

Glessner House Museum coach house

Prepaid reservations required to 312-326-1480

Fugitive slaves and freemen established Chicago's first black community in the 1840s, with the population nearing 1,000 by 1860.  Although hindered by discrimination through both state and federal laws, these men and women of color thrived in the growing city and sought to help others do the same.  Learn about their challenges and triumphs during turbulent times with presentations by four noted historians.  Optional tours of Clarke House Museum will be offered at the conclusion of the program.  Don't miss this fascinating glimpse into the African American experience in early Chicago.

Fifth Annual Mother-Daughter Tea

Saturday May 2, 2015 at 11:30am

$35 per person / $30 for museum members

Glessner House dining room

Prepaid reservations required to 312-326-1480

We are pleased to offer this rare opportunity to dine in our historic dining room.  Surrounded by beautiful oak paneling, a gilt ceiling, and a fireplace clad in exotic Persian tiles, attendees will be treated to a traditional high tea with fine china, silver, and an assortment of delicious treats.  Curator William Tyre will share beautiful examples of jewelry worn by Frances Glessner and her daughter, not normally on public display.  Invite your mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, or good friend for what promises to be a most memorable experience.  Tickets sell quickly, don't delay!

Lecture:  Inventing the New American House - Howard Van Doren Shaw, Architect

Tuesday May 5, 2015 at 7:00pm

$10 per person / $8 for museum members

Reservations requested to 312-326-1480

Architect Stuart Cohen offers a new look at one of the best-known architects of the early 20th century, who built homes for the leading industrialists of his era.  A traditionalist who incorporated English and Italian precedents, Shaw also created Market Square - America's first shopping center (in Lake Forest), the interior of Second Presbyterian Church, and R. R. Donnelley's massive printing plant on nearby Calumet Avenue.  Copies of Cohen's new book of the same title will be available for purchase and signing.

Lecture:  Arts & Crafts Metalwork and Jewelry

Thursday May 21, 2015 at 7:00pm

$10 per person / $8 for museum members

Reservations requested to 312-326-1480

The Arts & Crafts movement, a fascinating period in American decorative history, led to the unprecedented commercialization of fine crafts and the empowerment of thousands of women and immigrants, who began to pursue new careers in design and handicraft.  In 1893, the World's Columbian Exposition heralded the egalitarian art movement in America that led to the establishment of a plethora of metalwork and jewelry companies and studios by the turn of the century.  Author Darcy Evon documents how these new trends spread throughout the Midwest and eventually the country, led by innovative pioneers who inspired an entire nation.  They designed exquisite, original pieces of metalwork and jewelry by hand, starting with basic raw materials.  Frances Glessner's work will be featured.  Feel free to bring some of your jewelry or metalwork for show and tell at the end of the program.  Copies of Evon's book of the same title will be available for purchase and signing.

Lecture:  The History of Paint in America
Wednesday June 3, 2015 at 7:00pm

$10 per person / $8 for museum members

Reservations requested to 312-326-1480

Have you ever wondered how paint ended up in a can?  Learn how the Industrial Revolution and socio-economic pressures of the time caused paint to evolve from ingredients mixed in the field, to a ready-mixed, mass-produced product (that created a few Prairie Avenue fortunes as well).  This presentation by master painter Mario Guertin delves into the early challenges that Colonial America presented for paint and how technical innovations and population growth brought us to where we are today.  After this presentation you will never look at a paint can the same way again!

A Walk Through Time:
Annual Tour of Prairie Avenue Mansions
Sunday June 14, 2015 from 1:00 to 4:00pm
$50 per person / $45 for museum members
Reservations recommended to 312-326-1480

This very special tour, the annual benefit for Glessner House Museum, presents attendees with the rare opportunity to visit the interiors of several landmarked homes along Prairie Avenue.  Visitors will be treated to a breath-taking array of beautifully carved wood moldings, leaded glass windows, and fireplaces in elaborate tile, mosaic, and marble.

Abbreviated tours of the Glessner and Clarke House Museums are also included on the tour as well as historic Second Presbyterian Church, with its important Arts & Crafts interior and collection of windows, including nine by Tiffany and two by Morris & Co.
Following the tour, attendees are invited to return to the coach house of Glessner House Museum for a reception and silent auction, featuring theatre tickets, Chicago memorabilia, collectibles, architectural fragments, and other items of interest.

Treasures from the Collection VIII

A special members-only event!

Thursday June 25, 2015

6:30pm reception, 7:00pm presentation

This is your special opportunity to see items from the collection that are not on display for the general public.  Textiles, silver, photographs, documents, and more are brought out for this one evening just for our members!  If you are not currently a member, join today and receive your invitation in early June!  (Simply download a membership form available at the "Get Involved" tab at the top of the page).

Private Tour: St. Patrick's Church

Wednesday July 15, 2015 at 6:00pm

$25 per person

Pre-paid reservations required to 312-326-1480

This private tour will explore Chicago's oldest public building, designed in the 1850s by architects Carter & Bauer.  The simple facade of Milwaukee common brick sports two distinctive spires symbolizing the Church in the East and West.  Inside, the renovation of the 1990s by Booth Hansen Associates revealed the glorious Celtic art created by stained glass artisan Thomas O'Shaughnessy and others.  After the tour, we will walk one block east to tour the exterior of the Glessner Center, built in the 1880s for John Glessner's company - Warder, Bushnell and Glessner.
All proceeds from the tour will support the House & Collections Committee Fund for ongoing restoration work at the museum.

Prairie Avenue Walking Tours

Sundays from 2:00 to 4:00pm

July 19, August 16, and September 20, 2015

$15 per person / $12 for members

Pre-paid reservations suggested to 312-326-1480

See full description in sidebar at left.


Terrific Tuesdays

Historically-Inspired Crafts for Kids, Ages 3-13

Tuesdays June 16 - August 4, 2015

10:00 - 11:00am

$5 per child / $3 for Junior Members

Reservations requested to 312-326-1480

Come for a new adventure every week!  Learn about life in early Chicago and on Prairie Avenue while making craft projects inspired by area history.  Recommended for children ages 3 through 13; children must be accompanied by an adult.  Enter museum on 18th Street.
June 16: Quilt Blocks

Early Chicago families made beautiful quilts to keep them warm.  Learn about historic block patterns and recreate one.  Or design your own!

June 23: Japanese Leather

The Glessner dining room is decorated with dimensional wallpaper that looks like hand-tooled leather.  Use it as inspiration to design your own colorful embossed papers.

June 30: Basket Weaving

Native American families and early settlers wove baskets to carry and store food or other supplies.  Learn how to weave a real reed basket.

July 7: Hooked Rugs

Thrifty Chicago families used scraps of wool to create pretty rugs for their homes.  Make a mini version of a primitive hooked rug.

July 14: Picture Frames

Isaac Scott designed most of the picture frames in the Glessner house.  Design your own frame for a photograph or artwork.

July 21: Stained Glass Windows

Second Presbyterian Church is brightened by beautiful stained glass windows.  Create your own colorful design to hang in a window at home.

July 28: Decorative Tiles

Designer William De Morgan crafted many of the fireplace tiles used at Glessner House.  Decorate a fancy tile for your home.

August 4: Band Boxes

The Clarke family stored their belongings in paper-covered boxes.  Construct a band box from wallpaper scraps to keep your own treasures safe.




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312.326.1480 • fax 312.326.1397 • 1800 S. Prairie Avenue, Chicago, IL 60616