For the second time in four years, Chicago found itself in the midst of a blizzard as the first day of February rolled into Groundhog Day. In 2011, more than 21 inches of snow fell on the city in the third worst blizzard in Chicago’s history. This year, the official total of 19.3 inches of snow was measured at O’Hare Airport at 6:00am on February 2nd, ranking the storm as the city’s fifth worst blizzard on record. However, the 16+ inches of snow that fell on February 1st now holds the record for the greatest snowfall in one day in Chicago's history.
The Glessner house was designed as a winter residence, so it weathered the storm without an issue. The brilliant design of architect H. H. Richardson, minimizing window openings on the north side of the house, was fully appreciated as winds exceeding 40 miles an hour pounded the house. In the south-facing courtyard, lesser winds sculpted the snow into graceful drifts, as seen in the photos below.
Critics of the house labeled it the “fortress” and the “prison” when it was first constructed. During a blizzard such as we experienced last night, no doubt they would have all been glad to be safely huddled inside by the parlor fireplace, as the relentless forces of nature howled outside.