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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.

Tours of the John J. 'Jack' Simmerling Gallery of Prairie Avenue History showcasing his artwork and architectural artifacts gathered over six decades are offered as follows:

-First and third Thursdays at 11:00am

-Second and fourth Saturdays at 2:00pm

Pre-paid reservations required

We are open year-round, except for major holidays

New Year's Day

Easter Sunday

Memorial Day

Independence Day

Labor Day

Thanksgiving Day

Christmas Eve

Christmas Day

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
(for further information on the history and architecture of the Clarke House, please visit

For further information, please call 312-326-1480.


Glessner House Museum engages
diverse audiences in exploring urban life and design through the preservation and interpretation of the architecture of Henry Hobson Richardson and the historic home of John and Frances Glessner.

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Upcoming Events

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Glessner House and the Late Work of Henry Hobson Richardson
Tuesday October 13, 2015

Clarke House Exhibit:


Early Chicago

Saturday October 17 and Sunday October 18, 2015
9:00am - 5:00pm

Shadows on the Street:  Haunted Tours of Prairie Avenue
Friday October 30, 2015

Saturday October 31, 2015
Tours at 7:00 and 8:15pm

29th Annual Edgar Allan Poe Readings
Saturday October 31, 2015
5:00 and 8:00pm


"Not so convenient or artistic as we had expected" - The Glessners Build Their Dream House
Tuesday November 10, 2015

Special Tour:
The Architecture of Glessner House
Saturday November 21, 2015
(Repeats December 19)

Museums Decorated for Christmas
Wednesday November 25, 2015 through Sunday January 3, 2016

Christmas Candlelight Tours

Saturday December 12, 2015

Sunday December 13, 2015

Tours at 5:30, 6:00, and 6:30pm




Children's Events

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for more information

Columbus Day Craft

Monday October 12, 2015

Teatime with Toys

Friday November 13, 2015


Children's Holiday Tours

Saturday December 12, 2015


Collections Cameo

by John H. Waters

William Pretyman, Designer of the
Parlor Wall Covering

Glessner House Museum parlor

The dedication of the newly restored parlor on October 14, 2011 gives us a chance to look at the life and work of William Pretyman, the artist who designed the room's wall covering.  Active in Chicago from the mid-1880s to the mid-1890s, Pretyman is now little remembered here.  In fact, he designed a number of significant interiors, several of them in buildings by his good friend architect John Wellborn Root of the firm Burnham and Root.

Pretyman was born in Aylesbury, England in 1849 and traveled widely in his youth, serving two years as an administrator in the British protectorate of North Borneo.  By 1882 he had settled in Albany and the next year he married Jenny Remington (of the Remington arms family).  In 1885 the couple moved to Chicago, where Pretyman quickly gained access to the upper echelons of Chicago society.  He would go on to design interiors for a number of Chicago houses and churches, among them the Glessner House, the MacVeagh House (also designed by H. H. Richardson), the 1888 interior of Second Presbyterian Church at 1936 S. Michigan Avenue, and The Church of the Atonement in Edgewater.

Second Presbyterian Church

Pretyman's designs for spaces in several Burnham and Root buildings were his most elaborate.  They included the banking room for the Society for Savings in Cleveland (1890), Charles Gossage & Co. a dry goods store in the first floor and basement of the Reliance Building (1891), and Willard Hall, the assembly room for the Women's Temple at the corner of Monroe and State (1892).  Of these interiors only the Society for Savings remains.  (See further information below).

In 1891 Pretyman was appointed Director of Color for the World's Columbian Exposition, but resigned a year later.  His vision was for a colorful fair, and he did not remain after it was decided to create a "White City."  Pretyman and his family left the U.S. for his native England in the mid-1890s, though he continued to exhibit his art work in this country until at least the early 1910s.  He died in England in 1920.

Society for Savings


The banking room interior William Pretyman designed for Burnham and Root's Society for Savings Building in Cleveland is his only interior, other than the Glessner House parlor, known to survive.  The banking room fills most of the first floor of the building and, like the Glessner parlor, its walls are covered with stenciled decoration.  Pretyman also designed the elaborate leaded glass skylight for the space.

When the building first opened in 1890, the Chicago Tribune commented, "Mr. Pretyman has used much yellow in its color scheme, and the great room is like a golden burst of sunlight . . . (T)he effect of the whole is beautifully joyous and serene."

Today, thanks to the excellent preservation of the space, that effect can still be felt.

Through the Years with the Glessners

Journals courtesy of the Chicago History Museum

The Glessners Dedicate Their Home

125 Years Ago (1887)

December 1:  Yesterday we continued our moving, bringing down quite a number of things.  We found a car load of our furniture had come from Davenport, and had it brought here unloaded and most of it unpacked.  It is very beautiful.  Today we moved by the wagon load - and slept here the first night.  No one knew that we had been moving, every thing was taken in the alley way and unpacked in the court yard.

December 4:  Today we took a carriage and went to the old home.  It looked very forlorn.  We kindled a fire in the library and I lighted a lantern which I had carried over and brought the light home - then from that I lighted a fire here in the library.  Prof. Swing came.  After we had a lovely chat, we went all over the house, then the Prof. read a few verses from the 5th chapter of Matthew and made a beautiful prayer.  Now I feel that the house is dedicated, and so ends a very happy day and prosperous beginning.

Explore the archives of our newsletter to read more about our collections and Mrs. Glessner's journal.

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