Henry B Clarke House

Get an extensive dose of Chicago history with these three buildings, the oldest of their kind.

Chicago's Oldest Church - Old St. Patrick's Church
123 S. Desplaines St.

Old St. Patrick's Church

Dedicated Christmas Day in 1856, Old Saint Patrick's Church is one of the oldest church buildings of Chicago. You'll find it in the West Loop. Two of the city's first architects, Augustus Bauer and Asher Carter, designed the building. Its cornerstone was laid in 1853 and was fully completed with both spires in 1885. The spires are said to represent the Eastern Church and the Western Church of Roman Catholicism. This grand building survived the Great Chicago Fire though it was only blocks away from the devastating blaze. 

Inside the church is impressive, too. The stained glass windows date back to the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 with artisan Thomas O'Shaughnessy. The 30-year project was finally completed in 1922 and fit the dominantly Irish-immigrant congregation. At its lowest, the congregation had four registered members in 1983. So what to do to keep an old congregation new? Throw a party! Starting in 1985 they initiated the annual "World's Largest Block Party." Today it draws thousands of people and the church has a community of more than 2,000. 

 

Chicago's Oldest School - Lake View High School
4018 N. Ashland Ave.

Lake View High School is Chicago's oldest public school and its history goes back to 1874. Lakeview wasn't even incorporated into the city of Chicago yet. Back then it was known as the Lake View Township and the high school opened to serve a whopping eight students. The original building was a brick schoolhouse and burned down on Friday, May 13, 1885. The principal, Dr. Nightingale, had the help of the community to rebuild in 1886 and watched the school expand over the new few years. Once the township became part of the city of Chicago, the school was incorporated into the Chicago Public School system. 

The building then had a number of additions including a gym and assembly hall in 1898, and Board of Education Architect Normand S. Patton designed another addition at the far north end of the school in 1939 in the Tudor-Gothic style. In addition to the Sullivanesque ornamentation on the entrance, Louis Comfort Tiffany designed two memorial windows that flank the second-story oriel in 1901 that honor a former principal and teacher. 

 

Chicago's Oldest House - Henry B. Clarke House
1827 S. Indiana Ave. 

Henry B Clarke House

Chicago's oldest house has had a journey. Not just through time, but around the city. East-coast-born banker Henry Clarke had this built with a sturdy timber construction, with mortise and tenon joints all made of wood. A few decades later, a high-end tailor purchased the house and had it moved a few miles south to be outside city limits. 

Then in the 1970s, with the rise in interest in historic preservation, the building was identified as Chicago's oldest house. The City of Chicago purchased it, and opted to move it back closer to its original location. However, in all these years, elevated tracks had been built and the house would not fit underneath. They had to lift the house over the tracks, however a freezing storm meant the house had to hang out next to the El for two weeks. Finally, it traveled back to its current location in the Prairie Avenue Historic District.