Visitors around the world descend upon Chicago annually to enjoy the city’s amazing architecture. Home to buildings designed by architect heavy-weights including Frank Lloyd Wright, Daniel Burnham, Mies van der Rohe and Jeanne Gang are abundant throughout the city and nearby suburbs. Unfortunately, most of us never have the pleasure of seeing the interiors. The Chicago Architecture Foundation has changed that reality by offering us Open House Chicago, an annual event that opens the doors, literally, to dozens of buildings not usually open to the general public. Always fun for architecture-loving adults, Open House Chicago is great for kids too.
This year’s event takes place October 13 and 14, is free, and no reservations are required. Best of all, there are tons of great kid-friendly places in this year’s line up including Chicago’s landmark house museum, the Clarke House Museum.
The Clarke House Museum, housed in the Prairie Avenue Historic District, hosts free admission on Saturday, October 13 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. All family day activities take place on the grounds in the Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens, 1827 S. Indiana in Chicago.
Learning history will be fun at The Clarke House Museum’s Family Day where historic interpreters will demonstrate processes used during the 1850s including food preservation, period laundry techniques, butter-making, child-care, textile-working and other everyday activities engaged in by families in the years prior to the American Civil War. Special kids’ activity stations include a simulation milking cow, candle-dipping and constructing period political rosettes.
Free abbreviated tours of Clarke House Museum will depart throughout the day from the east portico, fronting Indiana Avenue, leaving every 15 minutes. The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Illinois is responsible for refurbishing Clarke House and they continue to support the collection and programs of the museum. (Note that these tours will be suspended during the hours of 12-1pm and 2pm-3pm to accommodate the museum’s regular tour schedule.)
Additionally, musical entertainment will also invoke the past as Tin Cremona performs a 45-minute concert of antebellum-era songs on the west portico starting at 2:15 p.m. Plus guests can take a part of the experience home as the Clarke House Museum store features reproduction toys and household items, books, note cards and other special items.
For the adults who want to learn more about why the Clarke House is so special: The 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.
Photo courtesy of Clarke House Museum and features a woman making buttermilk in traditional period dress.
Megy Karydes is a freelance journalist focusing on travel, health, sustainable living and fair trade for both consumer and business to business media outlets. When she’s not writing, she’s training for her next 1/2 marathon or running after her two young children (wait, is that the same thing?). For her travel adventures, visit Wandering Tastes on Facebook and Twitter or find her online at WanderingTastes.