Chicago is a city known for its architectural legacy, but it's also known for being a city that oftentimes overlooks some of its lesser known historic gems. Built in 1836, the Henry B. Clarke House at 1827 S. Indiana Avenue is the oldest house Chicago, but there are some new concerns about the future of the city landmark. According to blogger and Glessner House docent Bonnie McGrath, the city's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) has abruptly ended its relationship with the nearby Glessner House Museum, the organization that had managed the Clarke House for many years. While the city owns and maintains the Clarke House, the Glessner House provided tours of the historic residence and assisted in fund raising. According to McGrath, the city gave the Glessner House staff and volunteers a few weeks' notice that it would be taking over the day-to-day management of the Clarke House. In addition, it appears that the Glessner House was not given a proper explanation or reasoning behind the decision.
Because of the city's notoriously poor financial situation and the on-going privatization of many city-managed services and city-owned properties, McGrath is concerned about the future of Chicago's oldest house. "Clarke is on its own now, being run by novice city employees. Visitor hours are cut back," McGrath states in her post on Chicago Now, "There will be NO weekend tours."
The last couple of years have witnessed a number of huge preservation wins, but also a number of notable losses. Will the Clarke House become yet another strike against the taxpayers of Chicago? There's a chance that the city has a grand plan for the house, but at this point in time, preservationists and volunteer docents are crying foul at the recent move.