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Companion Activities

Companion Activities

This is Pam - Gene asked me to blog about my companion tour of Chicago's Mansions of Yesteryear. On the bus I found my notebook, but no pen. Seat mate Elaine dug through her SUCCESS bag and found a toothbrush and a spoon, but no pen. When I asked the group, several offered pens. One lady did not request a return; she is our hero.

Without modern utilities, how were Chicago's early mansions kept warm, cool, and lighted? Chicago's Clark house, the oldest surviving house built in 1836, had floor to ceiling windows. Open a window in the ceiling of the 3rd floor and air was pulled from the “widow's walk” on the roof through the house. Walah…air conditioning. 4 fireplaces heated the home, and mirrors set strategically through out the house reflected candle light to brighten the areas at night.

A huge 18,000 sq.ft. mansion built in 1886, the Glessner house had a fireplace in every room. The north side of the 3+ storied house had very narrow windows and a long servants' hall that acted like a buffer to keep the interior rooms warm. The half basement school room had not only a fireplace, but a 5' x 6' wall hung metal radiant heater, to keep the children warm. The large dining room boasted a curved south wall with 5 large windows to receive the sun's heat. Gas chandeliers and lamps provided light.

Which house did I prefer? The Glessner house. It had 10 servants!

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