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How do you move a 700+ ton home? Very carefully. Especially if it’s one of only eight remaining historic homes in Chicago’s Prairie Avenue Historic District.

by Marcia Matavulj, CAC docent, class of 2008

In 1888, at the age of 71, Chicago widow Harriet F. Rees commissioned Palmer Mansion architects Henry Ives Cobb and Charles Sumner Frost to design a new home for her and her daughter at 2110 S. Prairie Ave. 

The Romanesque Revival limestone mansion included an elevator, one of Chicago’s first in a private residence. In the early 1970s it was also the location of the Prairie House Café. 

More than 125 years after the home was completed, it was threatened by the development and pending construction of Wintrust Arena and the Marriott Marquis Chicago hotel in the McCormick Place entertainment district. But its City of Chicago landmark status and inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places helped save it.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks approved the move of the home and its coach house in fall 2014 to their current location at 2017 S. Prairie Ave., just one block north and across the street. 

Watch an amazing time-lapse video of the laborious moving process below:

The move cost approximately $6 million, plus an additional $1.9 million for the lot. The huge project was paid for by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which oversees the entertainment district.

Thanks to the City of Chicago, the Rees house continues to inspire us on Prairie Avenue, an outdoor museum of architectural history and change. The next time you have the chance, take a stroll by this lovely home and marvel that it is still with us.