Henry Brown Clarke House
Location: Between 16th and 17th Streets on Michigan (1836-1872)
4526 S. Wabash Avenue (1872 to 1977)
1827 S. Indiana (1977-Present)
Life Span: 1836-Present
Architect: From plans drawn by John M. Van Osdel
In 1871 John Chrimes, a prominent Chicago tailor (Waterbury & Chrimes), purchased the home of Henry B. Clarke and moved it farther south to 45th Street and Wabash Avenue into what was then the township of Hyde Park.
Henry B. Clarke House
Chicago Tribune, May 26, 1872
Thirty-six years ago the Chicago residents wont to rejoice at the tokens of ambitious local development in much the same spirit with which we to day receive the putting forth of our presages of later greatness. But it would not ne easy to conceive of modern building enterprises in this age, especially when we are restoring our destroyed city by wholesale, that could be hailed with such spasms of enthusiasm as welcomed some of the structures of the early day. Thirty-six years ago Henry B. Clarke was building a $10,000 house on the southern lake shore. It was a great feather in the cap of the South Division, then very much crowed over and overslaughed by the domineering North Side. William B. Ogden’s home was a stucco structure in the woods, some half a mile north of the river, its street location known only to the maps, for the timber came closely down upon it, and the undergrowth was only lightly disturbed in the labors of the first surveyors. Still there it stood, a comely broad cottage-mansion, with its ample porticos and its shapely exterior and interior joiner’s-work, brought all the way from New York State, Nothing like it in this region, as those can well believe who saw it as it stood until destroyed in the Great Fire, and compared it with the average structures of the same period reserved for the like fate.
When, therefore, Henry B. Clarke set out to build a house exactly like Ogden’s, and with the same plans, you may imagine there was no small stir in the settlement of some 2,000 inhabitants, especially among that part of the community where lots were cast on the South Side. Up to the time the South Side had been unfortunate and retarded in his growth, J. B. Beaubien resolutely held his enclosures about the great reservoir, bounded by State street on the west and Madison street on the south, and raised corn thereon season after season, holding out of development what is now the choicest business portion of the city.
The wealth and balance of local power was on the North Side. There were the warehouses of Kinzie & Hunter, Dole & Newberry, Gordon S. Hubbard & Co., and John S. Wright, each with its dock along the river front, where the steam and sail craft used to discharge their freight in a kind of “General Order” manner modern New Yorkers can appreciate. And not a pound of merchandise could come in the South Division to the stores on South Water street without being hauled over the Dearborn street bridge, which, on the opening of its draw, need to erect its flaps in a moat exasperating manner, and heighten the chagrin of the South Side population, by showing them their abject state of dependency to the region over the water.
The North Side was just rejoicing in the building of the Lake House by John Kinzie, Gurdon S. Hubbard and James Campbell, an enterprise, for that day, that throws the Grand Pacific Hotel of to-day. altogether in the shade. Commenced in 1835, it was opened in admirable style by Jacob Russell in 1836, and great was the wonder that settled down on the prairie people and the dwellers from the Wabash as they gazed on its marvels.
So it was timely and helpful, from a South Side point of view, that Henry B. Clarke commenced his ten thousand dollar house on the lake shore. The house, so long a landmark is now being removed to give place to a stylish city church, that of St. Paul’s Universalist Society, which is to adorn the east side of Michigan avenue, in the block between Sixteenth and Eighteenth streets. It may be of interest to turn a page or two of the local annals of that day. The great fire has left us not many landmarks, and fewer occupying their original sites, and within a few seasons hence a “spick and span new” city, fresh from the hands of the builders, and with all the varied styles of the army of architects, constitutes the New Chicago, there will little remain to remind us of the past.
When Henry B. Clarke set about building his house, he was not alarmed by the fact that his nearest neighbor on the lake shore was good Father Wright, at the corner of Madison street, a mile and a quarter distant along the prairie. Just beyond Wright was Beaubien’s house, and looming over this the block-house and buildings of Fort Dearborn. The property was originally entered by Dr. Harmon as a farm. His log house stood where now is Washington Smith’s elegant mansion, on Michigan avenue, near Sixteenth street. Mr. Clarke bought 20 acres of the Harmon tract, a strip 480 feet wide, running from State street east to the lake shore. He moved into the Harmon cabin, and there some of the older children of the household were born.
Henry B. Clarke was partner of William Jones and Bryan King in the hardware business on South Water street, a line in which they led in this section. He was also a Director in the branch State Bank in Chicago. Here are the associates in that institution:
- John H. Kinzie, President
Gordon S. Hubbard, Henry B. Clarke, Peter Pruyne and Walter Kimball, Directors
William H. Brown, Cashier
Ezra L. Sherman, Teller
James E. Bishop, Bookkeeper
J. Y. Scammon, Attorney
Solid names one and all have earned among our business community. Five of them are at the present active citizens.
The Clarke homestead originally fronted east, looking out on the lake. A picket fence and a cordon of tall poplars made the inclosure, of which the entrance was near what would now be the extension of Prairie avenue. None of the present streets were laid out. Up the lake shore, in its front came the Michigan City road, which brought the Eastern stage travel and the strong vans and straggling patriarchal caravans from the Wabash region, in the day when molasses gingerbrewed was known as “Hoosier hair.” It was not until several years after this, that Colonel Archer of the Canal Commissioners, used the State money to build the Archer road and as a straight and solid highway to “the Summit,” the head of canal construction operations. Indeed, for years after this, even when the late Frank Sherman converted his block of four stores, mistakenly “built too far from trade,” on Clark street, at the corner of Randolph into the “City Hotel,” the pioneer of the Sherman House, the Frank and Walker stage lines starting from this house each morning, dreamed of getting out of town to the southwest, westward, or northward, in no way other than crossing the Randolph street bridge into the West Division. Thence the Milwaukee stage went up what is now Milwaukee avenue, and the Galena and St. Louis coaches found their way across the prairie to the Ridge, and the high ground twelve miles west of the city.
Save by the lakeshore wagon track, all travel through the South Side fought its devious way over the prairie, taking its bearings as best it might. And just here shines out a good and kindly deed of Henry B. Clarke’s, of whom it is recorded that he never failed to place and maintain throughout the night, a lamp in his south window, that the belated prairie voyager might make his reckonings and secure as straight a trail as sloughs would allow.
It is worth calling to mind the Chicago of that day, and the few years following the first inception of Clarke’s building enterprise. The cruel times of 1837 shut down on all unfinished undertakings. when Andrew Jackson “took the responsibility” and strangled the wild-cat issues of the West. And larger schemes than Mr. Clarke’s came to a halt in new towns just chipping their shells. So it was not until some years later that the wide portions of the east and west fronts were added, which, for the past thirty years, made the Clarke house a landmark, striking even among more modern structures, and never relinquishing its place as an elegant and comfortable home ubtil the creation of a new Chicago, following the destruction of nearly every structure of its own day causes it to retire before the march of improvement, and the best aspects of a metropolis are thronging into its neighborhood, once remotely suburban.
Henry B. Clarke House
About the time Mr. Clarke built his house, Henry E. Hubbard dropped down upon the open prairie, and, by his location at the corner of what is now Michigan avenue, gave his name to Hubbard court. Following him, Ebenezer Peck put a solid brick house, where the home created Peck court. Then Dr. Eldridge built a stylish white house with blue blinds. He had bought a large tract with H. G. Loomis and C. L. Harmon. The three divided the footage, and it northern and southern boundaries are known on all maps as Eldridge and Harmon court. These houses still stand, the line of the burnt district being a few blocks north of them. And these deserve to be classed with the Clarke home as belonging indeed to the same period of growth.
In the height of the pride of the North Side in these early days of the Clarke house, Joel Walters, who is still among our most active citizens (and twenty years younger than he was before the great fire set him at work building wholesale stores by the dozen), daringly attacked the pristine of the North Side, and had a set with Captain Bristol of the steamer Madison, a controversy backed by the leading legal talent in the place, out of which came lasting defeat to the warehouse system over the river, for Captain Bristol, growling sadly at the necessity, was forced to land the merchandise of Norton & Walters then, and thereforth, on their dock on the South Side, a precedent South Water street was not slow to make a general one. Then came the sale of the Beaubien Tract, by Government in 1839, and its absorption into the hands of buyers,—many still to-day its owners. Then South Side business grew apace, and the North Side lapsed into a convenient residence quarter, with only a light fringe of scattered small business, such as it had when the great fire swept away the work of forty years and left us to look for a new North Side to replace, not restore, the old.
Musing over the annals of the early day,—their most interesting pages unwritten, indeed, but fresh in the the minds of survivors,—we have the statement of one of them, undoubted in authority, and careful as to the facts, that not two hundred men of 1836, at that time prominent in business in this city and section, are still alive. Chicago residents will be at no loss to discover how few remain of those whose names appear in this brief and rambling reminiscence.
The Clarke House was below, and not far south of the theatre of the Chicago massacre of 1812, and on the lake shore, near where is now the foot of Twenty-second street, there was a graveyard wherein were gathered the poor remains of the slain soldiers.The interments in this yard did not cease until some years later. Our informant attended the funeral of one of Francis C. Sherman’s children interred in these grounds sometime during this period. And when interments ceased here and burials began in the sand of the North Division, a great chill of dread came upon the bereaved ones, in more than a few instances, where the shifting sands, smitten by a strong lake wind, totally obliterated the traces of the fresh graves, so that several of Chicago’s early prominent citizens it can be said, as of Moses, that “nom men knoweth his resting-place to this day.” Among the cholera victims in 1849 was Henry B. Clarke. He lived long enough after the attack was known to be fatal, to give careful instructions, tenderly executed, that his remains should not be placed in the changing and incomplete places of public interment, but rest beneath a large tree on his homestead, and there his headstone stood for many years previous to removal to one of our modern cemeteries,—while a great city grew up and oushed its arms out beyond the once remote prairie home. And now the Clarke home is to be replaced by the Universalist Church, that twenty years ago was in the residence suburbs of the city on Washington street, between Dearborn and Clark, with the First Methodist at its elbow, the Unitarian Church just across the street, and the Presbyterian and Baptist on the next block west. Fifteen years ago the same Universalist society were suburban at Van Buren street. Now St. Paul’s pastor and people have evidently surrendered the idea of being suburban, for to resume their relative position in 1857, they must needs go four miles south of their present locality. The site of the Clarke House is to-day relatively less “out of town” than was the neighborhood of Van Buren street at the period above named.
Henry B. Clarke House
Chicago Tribune, June 9, 1872
When Henry B. Clarke was building the Clarke House, the well-known landmark now on its way to Forty-seventh street from its site, since 1836, on Michigan avenue, at Eighteenth street, it will be remembered, from our recent sketch, that the crash of 1837 had some influence in the way of postponing the completion of the structure, and it was not until the winter of 1838-9 that Mr. Clarke finished the handsome portico on his east front. It was not for many years later, until Michigan avenue was opened in the rear of the house, that this portico was exactly repeated on the west, as it proved subsequently, principal front.
Upon the sustaining core timber of one of the large fluted columns, it has, within a few days past, been discovered that Mr. Clarke spiked, solidly, with two tenpenny nails driven straight through the package, a bundle of papers that now, for the first time in over thirty-three years, has seen the light of day. The location was high and dry, and all the papers are as bright and clear as on the day they were wrapped up in this memorial. It may be readily imagined that the Clarke family opened these papers with a vast deal of interest. The packet consists of manuscript, currency, a tax receipt, family memoranda, a memorial to Martin Van Buren, and a selection of newspapers of the day. Here is
The Memorial to President Van Buren.
The undersigned, citizens of Chicago, in the Chicago Land District, Illinois, respectfully recommend Henry B. Clarke for the office of Receiver of Public Monies at the Land Office in Chicago, in the event of a vacancy occurring in that office.
Mr. Clarke has long been a citizen of Chicago, extensively engaged in mercantile business, and possesses, generally, the confidence of the community in which he resides. He has ever been a firm and undeviating Democrat, and his appointment would give great satisfaction to the friends of the Administration in this section.
The Tax Receipt.
Chicago, Cook, Co., Ill.
Received of H. B. Clarke $7.50, the amount of his tax for the next year of our lord 1838.
J. R. Gavin, Sherriff.
Mem.—Jan. 12. I paid my tax on the first of this year.
The Family Memoranda.
My family consists of my wife, Caroline; my son, Henry James, aged 10; my daughter, Mary, aged 6; my youngest son Robert, 8 months old. My dislike to paper-promises to pay, I desire to be known. I inclose one of the coats.
Henry Brown Clarke.
The Mormon Wildcat of ’39.
What Mr. Clarke thus impaled with his tenpenny nail, thirty-three years ago, with the emphatic declaration of hostility, is a five-dollar issue of the “Kirtland Safety Society Bank,” of Kirtland, O. This was Joe Smith’s Mormon institution. The Latter-Day Saints, originating in 1830, in Manchester, N.Y., removed to Jackson County, Mo., got into difficulties with their neighbors; moved to Clay County, in the same State; and in 1835 retraced their steps to Kirtland, Geanga County, O., 20 miles from Cleveland. Here they set about building a temple, and $60,000 was expended, and, imitating the Gentiles of the period, the Mormons instituted a bank issuing promises to pay, which, probably, in this latitude, in Mr. Clarke’s day, were worth not as much as this individual bill is worth now,—for it cannot be bought of the Clarke family at its face par value. But the failure of this Kirtland bank drove Joe Smith and his followers out of Ohio. They returned to Missouri; thence were driven into this State; commenced extensive operations at Nauvoo; but in 1845, left for the Saint’s rest on the then great interior wilderness.
This Kirtland currency had only a “confidence” existence in Chicago. Like a dreary flood of other equally responsible Gentile issues, it was bolstered into a limited circulation by a few interested parties, notwithstanding the banks rejected it, and the merchants refused it in exchange for goods. It passed in “traded” from hand to hand, varying with the skill of the party of the first part, and the ignorance or incautiousness of the other party. “Cashier Brown” used to frown heavily on all such merchandise, which was sure to give his State Bank, on the corner of LaSalle and South Water streets a wide berth.
The Newspapers of 1838.
The following copies of the newspapers of the day are found in the Clarke package:
- Oneida Whig, Utica, N.Y., Dec. 25, 1838.
Albany Argus, Albany, N.Y., Dec. 14, 1838.
Washington Globe, daily, Dec. 10 to 20, 1838.
The most exciting topic of news current in these papers appears in the bulletins fro the Canadian border, where the absurd “Patriot War” was creating something like the Fenian invasion of out own day. The New York news gives full returns of the Gubernatorial election of 1837, in which Seward distanced Marcy by 10,000 majority. The United States Bank and Mr, Biddle’s operations seem to furnish the leading editorials of these Democratic journals. Here is an item that must have caused some anxiety among people at the East who had friends in this region, it is from the Auburn (N.Y.) Journal, of December, 1838:
- Great Mortality Out West.
A gentleman of Montezuma, who has just returned from a trip up the Mississippi River, states that bilious fever has prevailed in the State of Illinois, on the Aux Plaines River, to such an extent that he saw in one graveyard three hundred and fifty graves that had not been wet with rain, it not having rained in forty days. Of 1,500 men who connected the Illinois & Chicago Canal, this Spring, between 960 and 1,000 had died at the time our informant was there.
Frank Blair’s Globe of Nov. 23, 1868, announces the triumph of J. T. Stuart, (Federal), in the Third Illinois Congressional District, over S. A. Douglas, Democrat, but claims a foul, or at least a tie. Considerable opprobrium is intended in the free use of the term “Abolition,” and, lest prosterity should not fully understand what this means, the Globe advertising columns are literally stocked with “Negroes for sale.” Our readers, especially our Chicago citizens, who are prone to believe the sleeping-car a very modern institution, will be edited by the advertisement of
The Railroad Between Baltimore and Philadelphia,
(Cut: Railway train of the period)
Twice A Day.
The United States Mail train leaves the depot, Pratt street, Baltimore, daily, at half-past 9 o’clock a.m., after the arrival of the cars from Washington City. Passengers dine at Wilmington, and continue on in the same cars, pass over the splendid viaduct (just completed) over the Schuylkill, and arrive in the Market Street Depot, Philadelphia, always in time for the evening cars to New York.
The evening train leaves the Pratt Street Depot every evening, excepting Sundays, at half-past 7 o’clock, or immediately after the arrival of the Washington City, the York, Pa., and Western cars.
Passengers take the cars which are waiting alongside, Havre de Grace, and then take The Night Cars, Which Are Arranged With Berths, And Other Conveniences For This Most Comfortable Night’s Sleep; arrive in Philadelphia, at the depot on Market street without the least disturbance of their rest, in full time for the early hue to New York.
The regulation adapted by this Company for the care of baggage meets with universal appropriation, as it relieves passengers of all trouble in relation to it.
The care for the accommodation of ladies are provided with Commodious Retiring Rooms, attended by female servants,
Dec. 8 (1838)
A. Crawford, Agent, Baltimore.
The house after its move in June, 1872, to 4526 S. Wabash Avenue with members of the Chrimes family in the foreground
Now, can any modern railway advertisement say more, except to mention the name of “Pullman” in this connection? Certainly, here were sleeping cars, and drawing-room cars “with female servants in attendance,” in operation thirty-four years ago. Nevertheless, the institution had gained so little popularity that, on our leading Western roads, where, twenty-three years later, the sleeping car suddenly sprung into universal favor, the night cars had been for years furnished only with seats and headrests, instead of berths. Who was the early Pullman of 1838 on the route between Baltimore and Philadelphia?
And noticing this early enterprise in the field so often claimed to be entirely modern, it is worth while to add, from another source, another fact pertaining to this very route between New York and the National Capital.
Railroading Scheme Sixty-Three Years Ago.
Few of this day are aware that, as early as 1809, sixty-three years ago, and twenty years before the trial-trip on the Liverpool & Manchester Railway, Oliver Evans endeavored to establish a railway between New York and Philadelphia, offering to embark every dollar he was worth in the enterprise. The only reason that America did not lead Great Britain in railroads, as well as the telegraph, was because Oliver had not the means, and his incredulous generation would not supply them.
To show that even in 1838, there was a rawness in public appreciation of railroad principles, take this paragraph from the advertisement of
The Washington Branch Railroad.
From Washington for Baltimore, 6 o’clock a.m., 4½ o’clock p.m. From Baltimore for Washington, 9 o’clock a.m., 4 o’clock p.m.
Under no circumstances whatever can the train be delayed beyond the hour fixed for starting. It is, therefore, respectfully suggested that passengers procure their tickets the previous evening.
Sam’l Stellinius, Agent
May 14, (1938).
The only other railroad announcements in the Globe are of “The Western trains on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, at the Relay House, which reach Frederick in time for the Western stages or Harper’s Ferry in time for trains to Winchester,” and “Traveling from Washington to Harrisburg by the Baltimore & Susquehanna Railroad, the through in one day, stages from New York.” It may be well to add that, in 1838, there were in the United States, in operation, 1,843 miles of railroad, eight years after the first use of locomotive in this country. Certainly sleeping cars were not tardy in following the locomotive.
We might go on and make further extracts from the newspapers, and the facts in history suggested in this packet, thus singularly preserved and handed down,—of no great antiquity indeed, as the sluggish pulse of other older cities is told; but, in Chicago, since these tenpenny nails were driven, on a prairie, with scarcely 2,000 inhabitants, the children named int he Clarke family memoranda have lived to see a city of 300,000 send its outposts six miles below their once isolated suburban home. Why will not the house-builders of to-day imitate the excellent example of Henry B. Clarke, and seek some means for the preservation of our current memoranda? And, remember, what prosterity will appreciate are the present details that look so small and trifling. A dozen fence handbills, a few pages of butchers’ accounts, copies of the Chicago Democrat and American, would have, after all, been of more value to Chicago to-day than these stately utterances of Calhoun, and Clay, and Webster, and the jangle of fierce political epithets that are the unfailing staple of generation after generation of the purely political press. Mr. Clarke’s package has taken its place in the family archives as a relic it will not be easy to equal in interest or value.
Map of the United States Mail Route by Rail Road from New-York to Washington City. Drawn from Authentic Maps and Actual Surveys by Saml. H. Kneass Engineer of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Rail Road Co. Philadelphia July 4th 1838.
Download for Full Size View.
Chicago Tribune, April 18, 1876
CHRIMES—On the 16th, at his residence, Wabash-av., near Forty-fifth-st., John Chrimes, aged 53 years.
Funeral Tuesday, 18th, at 1 p.m., to Oakwood Cemetery.
Chicago Tribune, January 11, 1879
Bold and frequent robberies are alarmingly frequent at the present time. Last evening another was committed, and it was not for lack of effort on the part of the thief or thieves—who got off without te slightest discovery—that he or they did not secure more valuables than a gold watch worth $50. Between 6 and 7 o’clock, while the inmates of the house of Mrs. L. Chrimes, on Wabash avenue, between Forty-fifth and Forty-sixth streets, were at tea in the basement, some sneak-thief of thieves entered and ransacked the rooms for money and jewelry. The room of Miss Hiss, a boarder with the family, was thoroughly demoralized, and the young lady’s gold watch was taken, but, although trunks, bureau drawers, etc., were opened and their contents scattered on the floor, no other valuables were lost. The chain that had been attached to the watch was found on the front steps by Miss Lydia Chrimes, who made the discovery that the house had been entered and robbed. There were no lights on the upper floor, where the thieves went, and they worked in the dark.
Henry B. Clarke House
1934 & 1935
Henry B. Clarke Memorial Plaque
Chicago Tribune, January 29, 1970
The Henry B. Clarke house, 4526 S. Wabash av. is under study by the city’s Historical and Landmark commission towards possible “official” landmark status. The structure is thought to be the oldest house in the city, dating back to 1836. Since 1941 the present owner of the building is St. Paul Church of God in Christ.
Chicago Tribune, August 20, 1977
By Paul Gapp, Architecture Critic
The oldest house in Chicago will soon be lifted over the Jackson Park elevated tracks, moved 32 blocks, and restored to museum-like quality in a handsome new setting.
Never before has such an elaborate and logistically tricky plan has been devised to save and enhance an official city landmark.
The Henry B. Clarke house, built about 140 years ago in Greek Revival style, stands at 4526 S. Wabash Av., where it served as a church in recent times. The city took it over after a fire inflicted minor interior damage last fall.
Beginning late this month, probably, the 12-day moving process will begin and the will come to rest at 1871 S. Indiana Av., on the western edge of the Prairie Avenue Historic District.
Several moving techniques were considered, including dismantling the building into three layer; traveling along railroad rights-of-way; and making part of the trip by putting the house on a barge in Lake Michigan.
Experts finally settled on a method which will be conventional except for the necessity of the spectacular crossing of the Chicago Transit Authority elevated tracks. Only the house’s Italianate cupola and a couple of other small parts will have to be removed.
On the first day, the building will be placed on a 64-wheel trailer pulled by a heavy truck and moved at walking speed to the west side of the elevated tracks at East 44th Street.
The next five days will be spent jacking up the house 25 feet, one foot at a time, while the supportive cribbing is placed underneath.
On the seventh day, between midnight and 6 a.m., will come the moment of truth when the 150-ton house is winched across the tracks on rollers moving along steel I-beams. It will then be placed on a duplicate cribbing structure just east of the tracks,
If all goes smoothly, the crossing may take only 30 minutes, although the CTA is providing a six-hour time cushion, just in case. At no time will any of the movers’ rigging rest on the elevated structure. As another safety precaution, a temporary fence will surround the area at ground level.
Lowering the house from its perch east of the tracks will require another five days. On the 12th day, the rest of the slow-motion journey will be made and the building placed on extra-wide footingd (for easy-centering) at its destination.
Then will begin a slow and meticulous job of renewal under the direction of William R. Hasbrouck, an architect whose practice is devoted to the restoration and ity retained adaptive re-use of architecturally or historically interesting buildings. Appropriately, his office is in an old mansion at 1900 S. Prairie Av., inside the historical district.
Since the city retained him for the job two years ago, Hasbrouck and assistants Ana Wolfe and Mark Browning have made hundreds of interior and exterior photos of the house; measured it in every conceivable way; turned our scores of drawings; and subjected the dwelling to architectural archeology.
The latter includes cautious drilling, peeling back, and in other ways exposing the guts of the house to find out how it was originally put together and then changed over the years.
Hasbrouck can look at an antique nail and tell you just about when it was pounded into place. He marvels over the Clarke house’s huge, hand-hewn oak beams; the still visible marks of such old-time tools as the adze; and the masterful carpentry performed more than a century ago.
His intricate preparations are necessary because the house will be subjected to “museum quality” restoration—the only dwelling in Chicago to receive such treatment, according to Hasbrouck.
This means it will look precisely as it did when it was new, with no design shortcuts, fake materials, or compromises. Even the species and location of trees around the house will be as they were in the 1800s. Wiring, plumbing, and electric lighting will be hidden because there weren’t any when the house was built.
The biggest challenge will be recreating a pillar-supported portico removed from the front of the residence about 1871. To do this, Hasbrouck must rely wholly on the only known daguerreotype photo of the house made before that date.
Named for the pioneer Chicago hardware dealer and banker who built it, Clarke house will be open to the public as a highlight of the historic district. It will be a museum telling the story of itself and early Chicago. Period furnishings will enhance it.
Workmen are already tearing up the 1800 block of Prairie Avenue to install authentic-looking sidewalks, street surfacing, and street lights of the period. In charge is Jerome R. Butler Jr., city architect, who won national honors last spring for restoring Navy Pier.
Existing mansions on the street and an architectural park will ultimately turn the district into a showcase for Chicago history and design.
Chicago Tribune, December 5, 1977
The oldest house in Chicago rests atop a seemingly fragile infrastructure early Sunday after it was winched across the elevated tracks at 44th Street and Wabash Avenue. The Henry B. Clarke house is being relocated in the Prairie Avenue Historic District from its previous site at 4526 S. Wabash, a 32-block move that forced contractors to build pilings to raise the home above the elevated structure, then pull it across the pilings on the other side. The move was made in the early-morning hours so power on the “L” tracks could be shut off.
Henry B. Clarke House