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CHICAGO, Sept. 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The Richard H. Driehaus Museum is pleased to announce its programming around the sesquicentennial of the Great Chicago Fire. The Driehaus Museum is uniquely poised to tell the story of this historic event because it is housed in the Nickerson Mansion. Built from 1879-1883, it is one of Chicago's earliest fire-proof residences that rose from the ashes of the Chicago Fire. A fire-proof residence was still a novelty even after eight years after the city burned down. Samuel and Matilda Nickerson were no strangers to the destructive power of fire, having lost a business, a bank and their first Chicago home to flames. Incredibly, their Cape Cod estate would also burn down in 1906.

The Driehaus Museum's Beyond the Mansion walking tour, available in September and October, will begin inside the Museum, where visitors will hear the story of the Nickersons and see how the architectural firm of Burling and Whitehouse transformed the Mansion into the ingenious fire-proof engineering marvel it is today.  The tour will continue in the neighborhood, where stops include the flame-licked spires of St. James Cathedral, the Water Tower, and the Pumping Station.

Audiences will grasp first-hand the direct impact the fire had on one Chicago family and one Chicago home. Through this personal lens, visitors will more clearly understand how the entire city grappled with and was transformed by this historic event. It will also reveal how Chicagoans learned the painful and regenerative lessons that culminated in Chicago's renaissance as one of America's greatest cities.

During the week of the anniversary, the Museum will host two additional events: On Thursday, October 7 at 6 pm CDT, historian Carl Smith will present a virtual lecture about the neighborhood around the Driehaus Museum and how its residents managed the fire and rebuilt their city. Drawing on his book, Chicago's Great Fire: The Destruction and Resurrection of an Iconic American City, Smith will provide the essential context to understanding why Chicago was so vulnerable to fire and how the fire blazed through the city, sparing no one.

On October 9, our youngest visitors are invited to the Museum to have tea with Mrs. Catherine O'Leary and the Nickersons' neighbor, Mrs. Anna Tree, whose family built the nearby Tree Studios. This interactive experience will transform a historical event into a living, relatable and poignant moment. It will be followed by a reading of Fiery Night: A Boy, His Goat, and the Great Chicago Fire by Sally M. Walker and Kayla Harren.

About Beyond the Mansion: The Great Chicago Fire Walking Tour

About Chicago's Great Fire

About Fiery Night

About the Richard H. Driehaus Museum


40 East Erie Street, Chicago, IL  60611


(312) 482-8933


For more information, please contact:

Julie Treumann

(312) 874 5909


SOURCE The Richard H. Driehaus Museum

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