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The Driehaus Museum and the Magnificent Splendor...

By: Daniel Evon / Photographs Courtesy of The Driehaus Museum

  • Richard H. Driehaus Museum Exterior

Richard H. Driehaus Museum Exterior

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A short distance away from Chicago's famed Magnificent Mile, the Driehaus Museum offers visitors a fascinating vision of one of the few remaining examples of the palatial homes built by the wealthy of America's Gilded Age. Nicknamed 'The Marble Palace,' this monumental edifice was commissioned in 1879 by wealthy Chicago banker Samuel Mayo Nickerson. The home cost $450,000 to build, a staggering amount in that day, and when The Marble Palace was completed, it was the largest private residence in Chicago. The Nickerson's lived there until 1900. For the next 100 years, The Marble Palace was leased to various tenants, then Richard H. Driehaus purchased the building in 2003. Driehaus immediately began restoring the mansion and established it as a museum with a vision to preserve and promote classical style and design.

  • The Drawing Room

The Drawing Room

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The Gilded Age produced two of the finest artisans of the late 19th century, Designer George Schastey and Architect William August Fielder, both Icons in their field. Contemporary documentation identifies the overall design of the drawing-room as the work of Schastey, while Fiedler designed the parquet floor. In this magnificent room (pictured above), George Schastey created four armchairs in the Neo-Classical style, specifically for this room. During this period, the drawing-room was traditionally considered to be a feminine space...thus, the decorators favored lighter tones for the woodwork and walls. The piano at the east wall was built by the firm Chickering & Sons, one of the leading piano manufacturers of 19th-century America.

  • Driehaus Museum

Driehaus Museum

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An excellent example of Beaux-Arts architecture, this grand interior is a mixture of Renaissance Revival and Aesthetic Movement design. From the Main Hall, looking into the drawing-room, you can see the fireplace made of polished onyx, complemented by bronze and gilt ornamentation that features a nickel-plated fireplace surround embellished with floral scrollwork. In addition, Sidney Meteyard's stunning painting of Saint Cecilia with an Angel is prominently displayed above the mantel. The sculpture is entitled "Cupid and Psyche," created in the late 19th century at the studio of Orazio Andreoni.

  • Louis Comfort Tiffany Garden Landscape Window c. 1900-1910

Louis Comfort Tiffany Garden Landscape Window c. 1900-1910

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The stained glass stylizing that Louis Comfort Tiffany employed was inspired by nature and personified here with complex geometric patterns, including a varied palette with richer hues and great density, as seen in this Garden Landscape window. Tiffany embraced virtually every artistic and decorative art, producing windows, table lamps, and lampshades. However, of all of Tiffany’s creative endeavors, leaded-glass brought him the most incredible recognition. Tiffany is considered one of America’s most prophetic artisans, with a career spanning from 1870 through the second decade of the 20th century.

  • Driehaus Museum, The Main Hall with view to Parlor

Driehaus Museum, The Main Hall with view to Parlor

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The Main Hall of the Driehaus is without question one of the grandest rooms of the former Nickerson mansion. Its two stories ascend with great splendor and are accentuated with seventeen varieties of marble from America and Europe and alabaster and onyx, giving rise to the mansion’s nickname of the Marble Palace. It is without question a marvelous example of the Gilded Age. Further, Join the Driehaus Museum for a night of mystery, mayhem, and murder! The Museum’s infamous murder mystery set in 1893 returned to the Marble Palace for its seventh year with a new tale filled with twists and turns. View upcoming Museum programs and events.

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