Chicago’s first official landmarks are celebrating the 40th anniversary of their designations this week.
When the Chicago City Council classified the Clarke House and the Glessner House as official landmarks on October 14, 1970, it began a process that has in turn protected thousands of historic homes and buildings around the city from being demolished while providing incentives toward their restoration.
Built in 1836, the Clarke House, 1827 S. Indiana Avenue, is Chicago’s oldest home. Throughout its history, the residence survived fires and was moved twice. During the second move, the home had to be lifted above the “L” because it wouldn’t fit under the tracks, but it was the middle of winter, the machinery froze and the home was stuck in the air for two weeks until it got warmer!
The Clarke House, which will celebrate its 175th anniversary in 2011, is now a museum in the Chicago Women’s Park of the Prairie Avenue Historic District and is a good place to see how an early Chicago family lived.
The Glessner House, 1800 S. Prairie Avenue, was built in 1887 by noted American architect Henry Hobson Richardson. The home helped reform domestic architecture and served as an inspiration to a young architect named Frank Lloyd Wright.
Although the home has more than 17,000 square feet, there are no vast empty spaces and more than half of the area was used for service. The residence, which was built with three bedrooms for family use, two for guests and eight for servants, boasts 11 fireplaces and 14 different staircases.
Also a museum, the Glessner House is an internationally known architectural treasure that houses an important collection of original arts and crafts furnishings. It will celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2012.
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In 1968, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks was established and Chicago became one of the first large American cities to develop a landmarking process and the legislation to make it work.
Since then, more than 295 individual properties have been granted landmark status and 53 landmark districts have been created that include approximately 9,500 properties.
Some of those landmark sites include:
*Many Frank Lloyd Wright homes
*Pate-Comiskey House, which was built for lumberman Davey Pate and owned later by Charles Comiskey of the White Sox.
*Palmer House Hotel
*Dr. Wallace C. Abbott House, who founded Abbott Laboratories
*Jane Addams-Hull House
*The home of Chicago journalist Carl Sandburg
*Seven Houses on Lake Shore Drive District
*Roberts Temple Church: The site of the Emmett Till funeral in 1955.
*Schurz High School
*The site of the origin of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871: Ironically, Chicago’s Fire Department Training Academy stands there now.
*The Lion House in the Lincoln Park Zoo
*Waller Apartments: Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, these apartments are considered among the earliest examples of subsidized housing in Chicago.
*Michigan Avenue Bridge
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Speaking of the Michigan Avenue Bridge, the famed structure over the Chicago River has been renamed DuSable Bridge in honor of Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable, Chicago’s first permanent resident.
A big ceremony on Friday was attended by many public officials including Mayor Richard M. Daley, Governor Pat Quinn and Senator Dick Durbin.
The bridge is right above the site where DuSable settled and founded the City of Chicago.