Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Springtime Interpretation at Clarke House

Come see Clarke House Museum change over for springtime interpretation! Mrs. Clarke and her children would have taken the months of April and May to clean the house top to bottom in anticipation of warmer weather and the visitors it was sure to bring. Join us this spring to learn about spring cleaning and gardening. Participate in hands-on activities families like the Clarkes would have done in 1850s Chicago! We hope you'll plan a visit this season.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Considering Our Collections: How CHM Objects are Catagorized

When you come for a visit to Clarke House, you will see several objects placed together to give an impression of an 1850s middle-class Chicago home. But are all of these items really from the mid-nineteenth century? Not everything. Currently, the museum's collection is divided into three categories: 

1. NSCDA-IL Artifacts: Items owned exclusively by The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Illinois. These objects are authentic to the Clarke House period and are the core of the museum's exhibits. Most of what you see out on display is from the NSCDA-IL collection. The bulk of these artifacts were gathered by the Dames when Clarke House was being restored in the early 1980s. Since then, the Dames have added several pieces to their collection and continue to seek out high quality period furnishings and household artifacts to enhance the authenticity of Clarke House Museum's interiors. 

The Real Deal: NSCDA-IL Artifact
2. Props: These are objects that have age, but may or may not date to the Clarke period. Props are secondary to the Dames collection, providing filler or backdrop to our principal artifacts. These objects are selected to help tell the story of our period of interpretation. Prop items would be considered "antiques" but are commonplace and easily replaceable. Guests and docents may be invited to interact with some of our prop items.

Prop Object: Fills in Our Exhibit

3. Reproductions: Objects that are modern-day copies of items that would have been available to the Clarke family. The museum uses reproductions in the same way as props, to flesh out our exhibits and make them more realistic. Reproductions are produced in the same manner, using the same materials that would have been available during the Clarke period. Guests are encouraged to touch, handle, and use reproduction items. Docents will point out reproductions for your use while on tour.

Reproduction Items: Try them out!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mother-Daughter Tea at Glessner House, April 30

Clarke House Museum is pleased to announce the following event for our sister intitution Glessner House Museum:

Time is running out to make reservations for the Mother-Daughter Tea to be held at Glessner House Museum located directly north of Clarke House Museum at 1800 S. Prairie Avenue. Don't miss out on this very special opportunity to take high tea in the museum's historic dining room, not regularly open for public events.

Historic photograph of the Glessner House Dining Room.
Mother-Daughter Tea
Saturday April 30, 2011
Seatings at 11:30am and 2:00pm
$35 per person/ $30 for museum members
Pre-paid reservations required; group size limited
R.S.V.P. to 312-326-1480

Experience high Victorian tea in the historic dining room of Glessner House!
Glessner House Museum offers a rare opportunity to dine in the historic dining room. Surrounded by beautiful oak paneling, a gilt ceiling, and a fireplace clad in exotic Persian tiles, attendees will be treated to a traditional high tea with fine china, linens, and an assortment of delicious treats. In addition, selected vintage textiles from the collection, worn by Frances Glessner and her daughter, will be on display. This is a very special event not to be missed. Invite your mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, or good friend for what promises to be a most memorable experience!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Happy Birthday, Charlie Clarke!

Today, April 6, marks the 176th birthday of Charles Clarke. Little Charlie was born right before the Clarkes left Waterville, New York for Chicago in 1835. He accompanied his parents and big brother Henry on the long journey up to Utica, along the Erie Canal to Buffalo, New York. He then boarded a boat that ferried his family to Detroit where they bought a wagon and traveled overland to Chicago, arriving in October 1835. A big trip for such a little guy!

His mother, Caroline Palmer Clarke, wrote to her sister-in-law Mary Walker in a letter dated November 1, 1835:
The other children are very well,(daughter Mary was left in the care of her aunt in New York) little Charlie has been considerably sick a few days from a severe cold,   but is now well as ever. He has grown very much, sits alone on the floor now. He was the best child on the journey you ever saw, scarcely cried at all. He would sit for hours sometimes on board the boat, looking first at one and then another, and seeming as much amused as though their whole conversation was acceptable to him. He was not afraid of strangers at all.
Charlie stayed with his family at the Tremont House, a hotel and boarding house in the town's center. He lived in the log home on the property the Clarkes purchased from Dr. Elijah Dewey Harmon and may have even taken his first steps there. Little Charlie also witnessed the construction of Clarke House and moved in with his family sometime during 1836. Sadly, on September 24, 1836, at just fifteen month old, Charlie Clarke died.

We don't have any images of Charles Clarke, but he may have looked something like this child. Little boys wore dresses before they were potty-trained to make diapering easier on the mother.
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