Today on This Old House
, we’ll be admiring a pre-Civil War gem located on Chicago’s South Side. Henry and Caroline Clarke came from New York to Chicago in 1836 to build their house on twenty acres of land at 16th and Michigan. After partially completing the house, Mr. Clarke went bankrupt then died in 1849. Mrs. Clarke sold some of the land to raise her four children and complete the house. In 1872, the house was sold to a fella who moved it to 45th street and Wabash. Why move into a new house when you can just move the old one down the street!
The City purchased the property in 1977 and moved it yet again to its present location in the Prairie Avenue Museums and Garden District. Having gone through several renovations, the Clarke House shows us what a middle-class home looked like in the 1850s. Upon researching the house’s history, the restorers chose to paint the house a sandstone hue, in part because of a choice Mrs. Clarke made earlier in response to the "taste-makers" of the time that declared the traditional white to be "too glaring and conspicuous" as well as "absolutely painful." And you thought pink and turquoise were rough.
Other interesting points for architecture buffs include the redesign of the original molding taken from enhanced computer imaging of old photos, as well as new UV-filtered windows, to protect the interior. City funding has bankrolled the latest renovation (coming in at a mere $750,000), so hey, you’re paying for it, why not go check it out?
Centerstage Reviewer: Benjamin Zoltak