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Chicago Landmarks

Clarke House and Glessner House were designated by the Chicago City Council as the city's first official landmarks. This began the process that has helped protect thousands of historic buildings throughout Chicago from demolition and inappropriate alterations while providing incentives to promote their restoration.

During the Richard J. Daley administration, Chicago was one of the first large American cities to develop a landmarking process and the legislation to make it work. In 1968, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks was established to recommend to the City Council properties for possible landmark designation. Staffed by the Historic Preservation Division of the Department of Zoning and Land Use Planning, the Commission also reviews proposed work affecting designated landmarks and landmark districts.

“Following the passage of the Chicago Landmarks Ordinance in 1968, the first buildings to be individually designated were those widely recognized for their historical and architectural significance. Since then, the program has expanded to include landmark districts, as well as such buildings as the home of Chess Records, Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ which was the site of Emmett Till’s wake and funeral, Wrigley Field, and the Lorraine Hansberry House associated with her acclaimed play, A Raisin in the Sun,” said Rafael Leon, Chairman of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.

Over the years, some 296 individual properties have been given landmark status, and 53 landmark districts have been created that include approximately 9,500 properties.

Clarke House

Address: 1827 S Indiana Ave, Chicago, IL 60616-1308

Built in 1836 for Henry B. Clarke, the Clarke House Museum at 1827 S. Indiana Avenue is Chicago’s oldest house. The house shows what life was like for a middle-class family in Chicago during the city’s formative years before the Civil War. Over the years, the house survived fires, belonged to a church, and was moved twice. The house is now located in the Prairie Avenue Historic District, and operates as a museum by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Illinois, which provided the period furnishings. Clarke House celebrated its 175th anniversary in 2011. For more information, visit clarkehousemuseum.org, see link below the article.

Clarke House is a historical landmark and located in the South Loop neighborhood (1827 S Indiana Ave, Chicago, IL 60616-1308).
It is considered Chicago’s oldest surviving building within the original city limits. Clarke House Museum is operated by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and is supported through the generosity of The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Illinois, responsible for the furnishings of Clarke House.

Clarke House is celebrated as an excellent example of Greek revival style architecture in the Midwest and was built 175 years ago in 1836 for Henry Brown Clarke and his wife Caroline Palmer Clarke. The Clarkes moved from New York in 1835 with their family to a new home and a new city on the prairie. Over the years, the house has survived fires, belonged to a church and was moved twice. Clarke House is now located in the Chicago Women’s Park & Gardens in the Prairie Avenue Historic District, close to its original site and is open to the public as a museum.

Glessner House

Address: 1800 S. Prairie Avenue, Chicago, IL 60616

A National Historic Landmark, Glessner House Museum at 1800 S. Prairie Avenue was designed by noted American architect Henry Hobson Richardson and completed in 1887. It remains an internationally-known architectural treasure in Chicago and contains an important collection of original arts and crafts furnishings. A radical departure from traditional Victorian architecture, the structure served as an inspiration to the young Frank Lloyd Wright and helped reform domestic architecture. Glessner House will celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2012. For more information, visit glessnerhouse.org.


Docent led tours of Clarke and Glessner House Museums are offered Wednesday through Sunday. For reservations and information, call Glessner House Museum at 312.326.1480. See also their official website (link further below).

Glessner (John J.) House


GPS Coordinates

1 -- Clarke House Museum
Decimal Lat: 41.857477 / Lon: -87.62212399

2 -- Glessner House Museum
Decimal Lat: 41.67979 / Lon: -87.61680899



Document Information
Source: Chicago CVB; magazineUSA.com
Last modified: 20110930
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