Worth It: Prairie Avenue Neighborhood Tour

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of a good FREEBIE.

But my love doesn't stem from my being cheap (although some might argue that I am). I love taking advantage of FREEBIES because then there's a little bit of change left in the bank to spend on events that require a financial investment.

Today, I'm here to tell you that the Prairie Avenue Neighborhood Tour is absolutely worth the very reasonable investment required. The tour happens on select Sunday afternoons and is offered by the Glessner House Museum.

It is a perfectly delightful way to spend the afternoon.

For two hours, we walked and gawked at architecture while learning the fascinating history of the neighborhood. And let me tell you, our guide provided plenty of juicy little neighborhood stories during our time together. Once Chicago's premier locale, the prairie district is in the midst of major revitalization and restoration after several decades of decline.

Kimball House - Prairie Aveneu
The Kimball House | 1892

In the late 1800s, ninety mansions lined these very few and very exclusive blocks. Those mansions were home to Chicago's wealthiest residents, including George Pullman, Marshall Field, and Philip Armour. Though only 7 remain standing today the area's rich architectural history remains evident.

Wheeler Mansion Wheeler Mansion Interior Staircase
Wheeler Mansion | 1870

Prairie Avenue's hey day was short lived. By the early 1900s the neighborhood began to decline as industry moved in and its high society residents moved out. There seems to have been a mass exodus North of the River.

BF Goodrich Co. Building - Chicago
BF Goodrich Co. Building | 1911

Elbridge G. Keith House
Elbridge G. Keith House | 1870

I'm quickly becoming a Chicago history geek, so the bits and bites shared on the tour were fascinating to me.  Our guide was richly informed, relaxed and funny. His passion for the neighborhood was evident and utterly contagious.

The tour was time and money well spent. It was definitely worth it.

For those of you interested, the Keith house (pictured just above) is on the market. 
We've gotten so used to our 900 square feet we're going to pass on making an offer.
But what about you?

For more information on the Glessner House, this tour, and the others they provide:
www.glessnerhouse.org • glessnerhouse@sbcglobal.net
312.326.1480 • 1800 S. Prairie Avenue, Chicago, IL 60616