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Symposium: Nineteenth Century Kitchens and Dining

  • Glessner House 1800 S. Prairie Avenue Chicago United States (map)

Dining evolved into a high art form during the nineteenth century. This symposium will explore dining customs, from the recipes used to the appropriate utensil required for each type of food consumed during the multi-course feasts. Back of house will be examined as well, showing how kitchens developed during the period, and what it was like for the kitchen staff to prepare the elaborate foods in the days before labor-saving devices.

The keynote speaker will be Leslie Klingner, Curator of Interpretation at Biltmore Estate, which features a huge kitchen wing containing all the food service areas required to provide meals in the soaring 70-foot tall Banquet Hall with a main table that seats 38. Additional topics and speakers include:

“Drink, Drink and Be Merry: Wining and Dining at The Gilded Table”
Suzanne Corbett, Author, The Gilded Table: Recipes and Table History from the Campbell House

“Cooking up a Story: Truth or Fiction”
Bruce Davies, Curator, Craigdarroch Castle

“Dining in Chicago’s Gilded Age: High, Low and in-Between”
Bruce Kraig, Co-Editor, The Chicago Food Encyclopedia

“A Day in the Life of Mattie Williamson: Eighteen Hours with the Glessners’ Cook”
Justin Miller, Architectural Historian, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

“From ‘Behind the Green Baize Door’ to ‘Always in the Kitchen at Parties’” Changes in Nineteenth- and Early-Twentieth-Century Middle-Class Domestic Architecture”
John Waters, Preservation Programs Manager, Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy

The symposium includes a continental breakfast and lunch, as well as optional tours of Glessner House at the conclusion of the day. Co-sponsored by Glessner House and the Victorian Society in America. The weekend begins with a separately ticketed opening reception and lecture “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” on Friday November 8.

Registration and breakfast at 9:00am
Program begins at 9:30am

$60 per person / $48 for members


Earlier Event: November 8
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
Later Event: November 16
The Architecture of Glessner House