January 13, 1883 - I drove Frances to the South Side
and after that to the North Side to look at the good residence neighborhoods,
and came back undecided where it is best to live if we leave this place
[West Washington Street.]
February 3, 1884 - By previous arrangement, Capt. Bushnell
[John Glessner’s business partner] and I called upon Byron P. Moulton,
Prairie Ave. We were shown through his handsome new house [at 1912 S.
February 10, 1883 - The Glessners visit the factory of
the Elgin Watch Co. at the invitation of president Thomas Avery, their
neighbor: “We went through as much of the factory as we had strength
for - about one quarter of it. It is beautiful clean work. There are sixteen
hundred employees, a great many girls and women.”
March 27, 1884 - Frances and I took advantage of the
beautiful weather to drive over the South side to look at different houses
and lots. [They are contemplating a move.]
April 10, 1883 - The new Chicago headquarters of Warder,
Bushnell & Glessner collapses during construction: “The building
is terribly wrecked. The architects have been discharged (Jaffray and
Scott) and the work put into Mr. Boyington’s hands.” [The
building still stands at 130 S. Jefferson Street and is now known as the
May 25, 1883 - The Glessners arrive in New York where
Frances Glessner stays at the hospital of Dr. Thomas for treatment of
her “hard headaches.” (Mrs. P.T. Barnum is a patient and Frances
Glessner finds her to be “a lady” although she feels in talking
with her “as though she ought to pay to get in.”) She does
not return to Chicago until December 2, but does leave New York during
June 6, 1883 - [On Monday] Barnum’s circus paraded
to the great edification of the children. I bought tickets for the children
and girls and Charles, intending to send them Tuesday afternoon, but Monday
night shortly after midnight the circus tent burned and the performance
was off for Tuesday. The animal tents were not damaged. Another tent was
put up and seats improvised, but owing to the great crowds I thought best
not to let the children go. Mr. Scott went subsequently and found every
place crowded and rain pouring into the circus tent; so he stayed with
the animals, especially entertained by the elephants - Jumbo and the baby.
The former is immense in size and the latter very interesting. He saw
the baby elephant nurse his mother.
July 3, 1883 - The Glessners visit their summer estate,
The Rocks, and are pleased with the progress of their new home. A newspaper
clipping they post in their journal states that “it is built in
the Queen Anne style of architecture, the first story of unhewn stone,
laid in cement, from plans by a Chicago architect (Isaac Scott) and will
cost from $10,000 to $15,000 when completed, and will be the finest summer
residence in the mountains.”
July 19, 1883 - John Glessner accompanies his friend
Albert A. Sprague to view property he just bought on Prairie Avenue near
27th Street. Sprague suggests Glessner consider buying “in the same
vicinity.” (The Glessners are living on Washington St. at this time).
August 24, 1883 - (John Glessner arrives in New Hampshire
to join his family and spend his first night in their newly completed
summer home. Frances Glessner had moved in on August 4.) “The house
at The Rocks was lighted from top to bottom. A “Welcome Home”
in fern leaves had been tacked on the base of the dining room bay window,
and the lamb had been decorated with a wreath of ferns and goldenrod in
honor of my arrival, but owing to the train’s delay, the lamb had
eaten her own decorations and part of my welcome, and the remainder of
this I was invited to inspect by lantern light. All were well and so could
bear a few hours disappointment and my welcome was warm enough to satisfy
anyone. Everyone had helped to arrange and decorate the house and in consequence
of Frances’ good taste and management and hard work it was all very
handsome, in good order and homelike.”
September 18, 1883 - “Tuesday we were surrounded
by mist same as on Monday, though we were in perfectly clear sunshine,
but as Littleton was enveloped, B. W. Kilburn, the photographer, did not
come out until later than he had agreed. He took two photographs of the
house, but not the best views owing to the light, and also several pictures
of the children and the lamb.”
October 27, 1883 - An article in the Chicago Tribune
praises the newly completed headquarters of Warder, Bushnell & Glessner
for its elegant architectural proportions, proclaiming it at once an ornament
and landmark. (The building still stands at 130 S. Jefferson Street).
May 20, 1884 – [While visiting Louisville, Kentucky]
After dinner, we took a poor old carriage, crossed the ferry to Jeffersonville,
Indiana, drove by the old Presbyterian church, the dwelling where Frances
boarded 19 or 20 years ago, and the small brick school house where she
taught when only 16 years old.
June 5, 1884 - I took Frances and Anna [her sister] to
the Republican Convention and we heard the speeches presenting the names
of the different candidates to the Assembly. There was much applause,
a deal of which was senseless. Balloting was not commenced until Friday
morning and during the afternoon and evening James G. Blaine was nominated
for President, and John A. Logan for Vice President, and the convention
adjourned. [After his father attended the Democratic convention in July,
John Glessner noted, “Singularly, (my father) a Democrat all his
life says he will vote for Blaine and Logan, while I, always a Republican,
will at least not vote for them.” His reason for not supporting
the party’s nomination is unknown. John A. Logan for many years
resided at 2119 S. Calumet Avenue.]
August 10, 1884 - The weather has been cold and unseasonable this week.
Frosts were feared, but such calamity has not yet occurred. I have a fire
in the library grate tonight.
October 5, 1884 - During the summer with Mr. Scott’s
help we have built six summer houses [at The Rocks], styled respectively
- The Clematis, The Grapevine, The Bluebird, The Martin Box, The Big Rock,
and Echo Fountain. We expect yet to complete an Observatory 35 ft. above
the highest hill, part of a stone barn, and to finish the ceilings of
October 10, 1884 - The Third Presbyterian church, on
Ashland Ave. [at Ogden], took fire this morning and was completely burned
out. [This was the third largest Presbyterian Church in the United States.
The Glessners attended here in the 1870s].
November 4, 1884 - Today was election day. Blaine and
Logan versus Cleveland and Hendricks. Mr. Badger and John kept their places
in line by leaving John and Charles (the coachmen) there for five hours
- but finally succeeded in depositing their votes for Cleveland and Hendricks
- their first Democratic votes.
January 10, 1885 - John spent part of the afternoon looking
over some property on the South Side. [They would purchase their Prairie
Avenue lot in March.]
March 24, 1885 - We bought the lot on the southwest corner
of Prairie Avenue and 18th Street, 78 feet front by 176 feet deep, $50,500.
March 29, 1885 - I spent all day looking over books on
April 11, 1885 -
I took George and Fanny to the matinee. Manta was given by (Adelina)
Patti and Schalchi. Fanny carried an exquisite bunch of pink roses,
which she told me in a whisper she wanted to throw to Patti. . . Fanny
said she loved her roses, but was glad she had given them to Patti.
April 19, 1885 - [Chicago Tribune] SIGNIFICANT SALE OF
A RESIDENCE LOT. The sale of the southwest corner of Prairie avenue and
Eighteenth street to J. J. Glessner for $50,000, reported during the last
week, indicates that, notwithstanding the general dullness in trade, there
are men in Chicago who have the disposition and the means to gratify their
taste for an elegant home. It also shows that really choice residence
lots are steadily increasing in value. A few years ago, before building
in his present location [1827 S. Prairie], J. W. Doane offered $40,000
for this same property, and this price was then considered by the owners
an adequate one, but owing to complications among the Hitchcock heirs
the sale was not made. The price now paid - about $675 per foot - is not
considered an extravagant one for this choice corner. Mr. Glessner will
build an elegant home on his purchase as soon as his plans are completed.
April 25, 1885 - We have had a number of letters from
architects - and now expect to go east next week. Today Fanny received
a beautiful photograph of Patti from herself, written on it, "For
dear little Fanny Glessner in grateful acknowledgement of Adelina Patt,"
dated and sent to her from New York.
January 19, 1908 - The Glessners lunch at the office
of Daniel H. Burnham “to look at the plans made for Chicago in the
future.” John Glessner was one of the subscribers of the plan, released
the following year as Burnham’s monumental Plan of Chicago.
April 4, 1908 - John Glessner attends a lunch at the
Union League Club in honor of Booker T. Washington. (Washington speaks
at Second Presbyterian Church that evening).
April 26, 1908 - The Glessners attend a dinner at the
home of Cyrus McCormick Jr. in honor of Woodrow Wilson, president of Princeton
University (and future U.S. president).
May 3, 1908 - Charles Hutchinson brings Sir Purdon Clarke
to dine at the Glessner home. Clarke is the director of the Metropolitan
Museum of Art in New York City and had previously served as director at
the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. (Later in the week, the Glessners
loan their automobile to take Clarke and other “visitors of distinction”
around the city).
May 28, 1908 - General Stephen Dill Lee, father of Fanny
Glessner Lee’s husband Blewett, dies at the age of 74. Lee was the
youngest lieutenant general in the Confederate Army and later served as
president of Mississippi A&M College.
October 11, 1908 - The Chicago Tribune announces that
the first national flower show will be held at the Coliseum from November
6 to 14. “The Horticultural Society of Chicago has practical charge
of the local management of the show, and valuable assistance is being
given by its directors, who include Clarence Buckingham, John J. Glessner,
Harlow N. Higinbotham, Charles L. Hutchinson, James Keeley, Victor F.
Lawson, John J. Mitchell, Martin A. Ryerson, Edward G. Uihlein, Charles
H. Wacker, and W. E. Kelley.” A committee of female members of the
Society including Mrs. Potter Palmer, Mrs. John J. Glessner, and Mrs.
Cyrus McCormick will serve as judges of table decorations.
November 2, 1908 - We had the first meeting of the Reading
class [for the season]. Over sixty ladies were here. Mrs. Kennedy read
the first hour and John read his paper The Potato which he reads tomorrow
night at the Literary Club. We had a fine time.
November 8, 1908 - “The honey you have sent has
taken its place as the chief treasure of our house. Heretofore there was
the danger that either Emily or Eames or I would get at the jar when the
others weren’t around . . . To prevent any unpleasantness this year,
we have agreed to eat this precious article only in the presence of all
three of us.” [Excerpt of letter sent by Franklin MacVeagh, who
was appointed Secretary of the Treasury by President Taft in March 1909.]
December 11, 1908 - The garage at Mr. Cunningham’s
(1824 S. Prairie) burned - two people, a mother and baby, lost their lives,
and two men were badly hurt, one probably fatally.
January 1, 1909 - Today was my birthday. We invited the
whole orchestra to supper. Fanny took the preparations in hand and most
of it was kept as a surprise for me. We set the tables all about the parlor
floor of the house. When the time came, we received the guests upstairs
and when supper was ready, the orchestra commenced to sing the Tannhauser
march and we all marched down the stairway to the tables. Our table had
an enormous birthday cake surrounded by over a hundred scarlet candles
in scarlet rose cups. On top of the cake an old fashioned bee hive, made
of sugar. On this were bees and clover blossoms, with bees suspended from
January 6, 1909 - John went to the opening of the Cliff
Dwellers room above Orchestra Hall. John presented the club with the two
mantel pieces and fire irons. They had a ceremony lighting the two fires.
[Journal of Frances Glessner] “The great hearth fire, the pride
of the cliff dwellers, was lighted with appropriate ceremonies after bits
of fuel from the Tavern club of Boston and the Bohemian club of San Francisco
had been piled on the andirons. Each club sent driftwood from the ocean.”
[Chicago Tribune, January 6, 1909]
February 14, 1909 - Today we are having a blizzard. We
went to a luncheon at General Fred Grants. We saw many extremely interesting
things in their house - and had a delightful time. [Frederick Dent Grant
was the eldest son of President Ulysses S. Grant. His wife Ida was the
sister of Bertha Honoré Palmer. Their home was at 1406 N. Dearborn.]
February 27, 1909 – [Friends] Judge [Jacob] Dickinson
and Franklin MacVeagh have accepted positions in Taft’s cabinet
[as Secretary of War and Secretary of the Treasury, respectively].
April 10, 1909 - In the evening John gave a dinner to the Commercial Club
here at our house. I have been arranging for this for weeks. We had 63
gentlemen here. We received them in the upstairs hall. When they came
down to dinner I staid up and at the regular time went to the concert.
We had a fine dinner every bit of which was prepared in the house and
cooked by Mattie and Fanny. We had the beds taken out of the corner guest
room and had cocktails served up there. We had red carnations for the
men - a large vase of roses on the table in the upstairs hall, a group
of blooming plants in the lower hall. On the tables we had white lilacs
and crimson rambler roses. [The Commercial Club sponsored Burnham and
Bennett’s Plan of Chicago which was published three months later.
John Glessner served as president of the club in 1897 and later wrote
June 11, 1909 - John Glessner Lee, the Glessners’
oldest grandchild, travels to Vicksburg for the unveiling of a statue
of his paternal grandfather, Stephen Dill Lee, who had died in 1908. The
Chicago Tribune of June 10 reported: “A distinguished party of Chicagoans
left the city for Vicksburg last evening as guests of President J. T.
Harahan of the Illinois Central to be present tomorrow at the unveiling
of a heroic bronze statue of Gen. Stephen D. Lee in the Vicksburg National
Military park.” Although only nine years of age, John Glessner Lee
was given the honor of unveiling the statue.
September 4, 1909 - Mr. Scott has carved a superb mahogany panel to go
across the top of the vestibule at our front door [at the Rocks]. We got
it in place and invited all of the family in at five o’clock. John
made a very nice little address and the sweet little grandchildren unveiled
the panel. We had tea and the children sang. It was very sweet and pretty.
[The panel is on permanent display in the museum’s Isaac Scott exhibit.]
September 12, 1909 - Today the doctor telephoned that
Mr. [Turlington] Harvey was near his end. We went to the hospital and
saw his son Paul who came last night. Mr. Harvey was in a dying condition.
We came home. Just now word comes that Mr. H died at 4:30, not more than
an hour after we left the hospital. [The Glessners had purchased Harvey’s
home at 1702 S. Prairie Avenue in 1899 and soon after had it razed for
construction of twin town houses for their two children, designed by Shepley,
Rutan and Coolidge.]
November 25, 1909 - John, George and I went to Graceland
[Cemetery] to make the final selection of a lot there. (The plot selected
was Lot 2 in the Willowmere section, along the west side of Lake Willowmere.
The lot contained 2,758 square feet for which the Glessners paid $8,274,
the equivalent of $188,000 in today’s dollars. The plot is the final
resting place for John and Frances Glessner, and their infant son John
Francis, who was disinterred from the original family plot at Rosehill
and placed in the casket with his mother. The headstones are large limestone
slabs featuring a simple Celtic knot symbol).
December 31, 1909 - In the afternoon we went to the concert.
Mr. Stock gave his Symphony (in C minor) for the first time. It is dedicated
to John and me, and is a very remarkable work. It had a splendid reception
by the audience and orchestra. Mr. Stock had an ovation before he commenced
and was recalled several times. [Stock’s dedication: “This
symphony was written in honor of two well-beloved people, man and woman,
who have won for themselves the highest esteem and loyal friendship of
many of the most worthy dwellers in this land. Far away from this big
city of ours, with all its worldly strife and struggle, these two people
have built for themselves and for their kin a sylvan retreat, where Nature’s
charms are beautiful beyond belief. It was here that the Symphony was
first conceived, that a large part of the Scherzo and still larger portions
of the slow movement were laid out, and here, too, the Finale was fully
outlined. To these two people, whom the composer is privileged to number
among his best and dearest friends, his symphony is most affectionately
dedicated.” (Program Notes, December 31, 1909, Chicago Symphony
At midnight we had champagne and claret cup, ice cream and cake and I
struck twelve on the gong. We circled round and sang Auld Lang Syne. John
proposed a beautiful toast to Mr. Stock and another to me at midnight.
I gave Mr. Stock a letter from Mendelssohn, and one from Jenny Lind.
January 26, 1933 - The Chicago Symphony Orchestra honors
John Glessner on his 90th birthday during their evening concert, at which
Serge Prokofieff is the guest soloist. Conductor Frederick Stock leads
a fanfare to Glessner which was “played rousingly, and the audience
stood at attention.” (Chicago Tribune, January 27, 1933)
March 6, 1934 - The Chicago Orphan Asylum hosts a musical
and tea to commemorate the birthday of the late Charles L. Hutchinson,
who served as president of the asylum for seven years and established
a fund to provide for the musical education of its residents. Frances
Lee Martin, John Glessner’s granddaughter, is the third generation
of the family to support the institution. [Chicago Tribune, March 6, 1934]
April 2, 1934 - The Chicago Literary Club marks its seventieth
birthday with a dinner at the Chicago Woman’s Club. Among those
in attendance are Franklin MacVeagh, a founding member, and John Glessner,
who had joined in 1883. He remained a member until his death in 1936,
and his membership of 53 years was among the longest in the history of
the club. [Chicago Tribune, April 2, 1934]
July 2, 1934 - Helen Macbeth, Frances Glessner’s
older sister, dies at the age of 96. Born in Springfield Ohio in January
1838, Helen was a talented artist and never married. Several examples
of her artwork are on display in the museum, including painted tiles in
the main hall, and a portrait of her mother, which hangs in the master
bedroom, to the right of the bed. Helen moved to Chicago in 1884, and
for many years occupied an apartment at 2216 S. Prairie Avenue with her
widowed sister, Anna Macbeth Robertson. She played a vital role in the
Glessner family, and accompanied Fanny on her grand tour of Europe in
1896-1897, and also served as maid of-honor at her wedding in February
1898. She died while staying at The Rocks, the Glessner summer estate
in New Hampshire.