Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Glessners dedicate their new home - December 4, 1887

On December 4, 1887, three days after moving into her new home at 1800 South Prairie Avenue, Frances Glessner made the following entry in her journal:

Dec. 4, 1887 – First Sunday in our new home – 1800 Prairie Ave.
Today we took a carriage and went to the old home.  It looked very forlorn.  We kindled a fire in the library and I lighted a lantern which I had carried over and brought the light home – then from that I lighted a fire here in the library.  This afternoon the MacVeagh’s came to tea.  I made tea on the table – we had some salad, some bread, butter, grapes, oranges, cake and canned cherries.  After tea Eames came, then Prof. Swing came.  After we had a lovely chat, we went all over the house, then the Prof. read a few verses from the 5th chapter of Matthew and made a beautiful prayer.  Now I feel that the house is dedicated.  And then they went home and so ends a very happy day and prosperous beginning. 

On December 4, 2012, nearly 60 members, friends, and volunteers of Glessner House Museum gathered to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Glessners dedicating their new home, bringing to a close the 18-month celebration of this milestone in the history of the house.  At 6:00pm, the “fire ceremony” was recreated in the library, with John and Frances Glessner (portrayed by docents Brian Starr and Aimee Daramus) carrying a lantern into the room. 

After all the guests were assembled, Frances Glessner knelt before the fireplace and “lit” the coals, bringing a warm glow to the space.  Afterwards, Professor David Swing (portrayed by Rev. David Neff of Second Presbyterian Church) read verses 14 to 16 from the fifth chapter of Matthew:

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

The ceremony concluded with Professor Swing praying for the new house and its occupants.  Afterwards, the assembled crowd moved to the coach house for a festive dinner, provided courtesy of D’Absolute Catering.  The evening concluded with an informational presentation on the life and accomplishments of Frances Glessner by Executive Director and Curator William Tyre.  It was a fitting close to a wonderful eighteen months of reflection on the extraordinary house and its occupants.

NOTE:  The artwork at top, depicting the “fire ceremony” in the library fireplace, is an original piece created by talented artist Jack Simmerling specifically for Glessner House.  The artwork is available as both Christmas cards and note cards by calling the Glessner House Museum store at 312-326-1480.

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