The must-see house in Chicago / by Chris Tyre


One thing that I love about Chicago is that there is always something new to discover. However, there’s nothing new about this house. And that’s exactly why it’s worth seeing. I’m talking about the Glessner House located on historic Prairie Avenue tucked away in Chicago’s South Loop.

I was that guy in college that was always listening to the “weird” or “up-and-coming” bands that nobody had ever heard of (but liked once they heard them). As I’ve grown older, I still love that feeling of discovering hidden gems, but it’s a little less indie rock and more hole-in-the-wall cafes, niche museums, and pop-up art shows. If that’s your jam too, then it’s time you head to the Glessner House Museum! There’s no better month to go than December when it’s all decked out for Christmas and holiday events.

I was fortunate to catch up with Executive Director and Curator William Tyre who gave me a tour of this fortress. Not only did I learn that this house is a National Historic Landmark, but it recently was awarded the President’s Award for Stewardship from Landmarks Illinois. Pretty nifty!

Chicago's Glessner House museum in an architectural marvel designed by Henry Hobson Richardson and is a US National Historic Landmark. Now let's go inside and explore!

The Glessner House was designed by architect Henry Hobson Richardson who was a big ol’ man whose portrait hangs in the main hall. The house was completed in 1887 when Prairie Avenue was home to Chicago’s wealthiest residents like Marshall Field and George Pullman.

The Glessner’s Library

The Glessner’s Library

I had no idea how influential the Glessner family was in Chicago until I took the tour. FUN FACT: John and Frances Glessner were an enormous part of launching the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (aka The CSO). If it weren’t for their financial support, Orchestra Hall may never have been. For more on their involvement, read this article on the CSO’s 125th anniversary. And if you are a fan of CSI, there’s a room upstairs that you can’t miss. But I won’t spoil the surprise. I’ll let you take the tour and find out for yourself.

I’ve been to the Glessner House a few times now including a wedding ceremony and Open House Chicago. While those were both great (and free) ways to see the house, those tours weren’t more than a sampling like the single cube of cheese you get on a toothpick at the deli. You really need to schedule a full tour to appreciate the history and story behind the house. Then again, I get kind of nerdy when it comes to my hometown’s history. (Keep reading for a discounted tour offer!)

The Glessner’s Dining Room

The Glessner’s Dining Room

As a thank you to readers, the Glessner House and I have teamed up to offer you a special promo price on regular tours that are offered 5 days a week. When booking a tour in person at the museum, mention this article from “Nomad and Camera” and receive 50% off your second ticket!

The Glessner House museum is located at 1800 S. Prairie Avenue, Chicago. They can be reached at (312) 326-1480 or