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Until further notice, all CAC walking tours are suspended and the Center at 111 E. Wacker Dr. is closed, in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines from the State of Illinois.

Jean Klingle fondly recalls going on Chicago Architecture Foundation tours with her husband many years ago, when the two were recently married and living together in the city.

by Jessica Cilella and Chris Younkin-Wilson

Since then, Klingle has enjoyed working in marketing and living in various parts of the country—most recently in Phoenix. But last May, after her husband passed away, Klingle decided to move back to Chicago to be closer to her two children. Shortly after settling into her new home in Wicker Park, the longtime admirer of architecture and design became a CAC member.

We chatted with Klingle to hear more about why she became a member, what she enjoys most about her membership and why she believes the CAC is worthy of donor support.

How has the CAC helped you form a better connection with Chicago?

The CAC combines so many facets of the city that you cannot help but feel connected. When you participate in all the CAC offers, you learn about history, design, neighborhoods, culture, art, and the future of Chicago.

CAC tours also gave me a sense of community while being new in town. I have shared many good walks with people I have met on tours.

How many tours have you taken and which ones did you like the most?

I have been on 23 tours: 20 walking and 3 bus tours. It’s hard to say my favorites. I enjoyed them all and was impressed with the CAC docents who make Chicago magic come to life. 

  • I enjoyed the park tours, especially “Lincoln Park: From Cemetery to Sculpture Garden.” It is touching to think of the many immigrants who put their nickels and dimes together to erect a statue to honor their home country.
  • I was very impressed with the design and “secrets” of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel. What a cool building!
  • “Food and Architecture of 1893” was fun and delicious. I love brownies, but I never knew their origin until the 1893 tour.
  • “The Chicago Pedway” tour was fascinating. As a marketer, I see the opportunity to make it more accessible to all. It needs better signage, more art and some Chicago personality! It felt like we were in on a secret when we met the photographer who sits outside the Cook County Marriage Court. There he sits—bouquet in hand—in case the new couples need photos.
  • Taking the “Wicker Park” tour told me a lot about my neighborhood that I did not know. I didn’t expect to find a howitzer in a front yard or a church built with stones from a brothel!
  • I discovered quite a few places to find quiet and a great place to relax on the tours. For example, the manmade “stream” in Millennium Park’s Lurie Garden, the Alfred Calder Lily Pool in Lincoln Park, the Riverwalk and the Art Deco lobby of the former Chicago Motor Club (now the Hampton Inn).

Tell us about the friendship you formed through CAC walking tours.

On the “Lincoln Park” tour, I met Tish Eicher who had just retired. Tish and I got to know each other during the tour and found that we had many things in common, including working in marketing and an interest in architecture. We’ve since been on many walking tours together. I feel so blessed to have made such a good friend.

Why did you do recently choose to donate to the CAC?

I believe in the CAC’s mission. It has given me so much pleasure to belong to the CAC and participate in its tours and programs that it was an easy decision. I have received so much more from the CAC than I have paid for with my membership. Art and culture are important. Without tour fees and other forms of revenue coming in right now, I knew the CAC could use my support. 

Are there other stories from your time with the CAC that you would like us to know?

I like how each of the tours has the personality of its docent. I admire how the CAC has basic information for each tour, but the docent is allowed to shape the tour they give. When I went on the “Parks by Bus” tour, for example, docent extraordinaire Maurice found a secret garden for us to walk through. The enthusiasm, knowledge and love that each docent has for the CAC always shines through.

Support from donors is crucial to the stability of the CAC during the temporary suspension of in-person activities. Consider supporting the CAC today with a tax-deductible donation.