A Winter Home

Glessner House Museum 1800 South Prairie Avenue Chicago

Written By VAMONDE

Digital Storytelling and Visitor Analytics for City and Cultural Institutions

Yes, you read that right, a winter house in Chicago. Of all places a wealthy man of the 19th century could have a winter home, John Glessner chose Chicago. This was because his son would suffer terribly from hay fever in their New Hampshire home. Glessner came into his fortune as a partner with the firm Warder, Bushnell, & Glessner, a farm machinery company that had an office in Chicago. 

H.H. Richardson designed the winter estate, but the Glessner family was very much involved in process, wanting a "cozy" home. From the outside it looks more like a fortress that could withstand some of the toughest battles of the time, but once inside its charming decor makes it feel just as the Glessner family intended.  

As a winter home in Chicago, it had to be built for warmth. The majority of the windows face south for maximum sunlight. You can see this only from the practically hidden courtyard that also exposes the "E" shape of the house. 

The ivy that covers the inside wall of the courtyard is the offspring of the original ivy that once covered much of the house. This speaks to the preservation of the home as much of the interior and decor is from the time that Glessner's resided there. 

After John Glessner's death in 1936, the house was given to the American Institute of Architects, who would eventually give it back to the family. Just a year later the family would deed the home to Armour Institute, now Illinois Tech, where professors had their offices and classrooms. Present day, the Glessner House serves as a museum and host to 25 lucky brides a year. 

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