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Battle of the Ages

For decades, the Henry B. Clarke House on South Indiana Avenue enjoyed the uncontested honor of being called the city’s oldest home. But over the past few years, a contender for that title has quietly emerged: the Noble-Seymour-Crippen House in Norwood Park.

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TIMELINE

THE NOBLE-SYMOUR-CRIPPEN HOUSE
 
THE HENRY B. CLARKE HOUSE
1833 A noble home Using boards cut at his son’s Des Plaines River sawmill, Mark Noble builds a one-story frame house on his 150-acre farm, 13 miles northwest of the newly incorporated town of Chicago.
 

1836 Clarke in metropolis New York transplant Henry B. Clarke begins building a house on 20 acres just south of the town of Chicago, which incorporates as a city a year later.

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1849 Widow’s peak After Clarke dies during a cholera epidemic, his wife, Caroline, sells half their land to finish construction on the house (shown here in a daguerreotype from the 1850s).

1868 Gentleman farmer Thomas Hartley Seymour builds a two-story Italianate addition; he raises cattle and cultivates a vineyard and apple and cherry orchards.

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1872 Flameout A year after fire ravages much of Chicago, John Chrimes moves the residence four miles south to what he hopes is a safer and healthier locale.

1893 Land grab Chicago annexes the village of Norwood Park, where the house stands.

 
 

1920 Brightly flushed Stuart and Charlotte Crippen—respectively a concert pianist and a dramatist who had met on the Chautauqua circuit—add electricity and indoor plumbing to the house.

 
 
 

1926 Stuart Crippen Jr. marries Agnes Crego, as shown in a picture from the scrapbook of his sister, Margaret (third from right).

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1941 Heaven sent Louis Henry Ford, remembered today as a civil-rights activist and the presiding bishop of the Church of God in Christ, acquires the house.

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1977 Moving day After removing its cupola and dormers, workers transport the house to Indiana Avenue, en route lifting it over the el.
WATCH VIDEO OF THE MOVE >>

1987 Past preservers The Norwood Park Historical Society buys the house and the remaining 1.7 acres of land from Agnes Crego Crippen for $285,000.

 
 

 

1988 Enter the archive The restored Noble-Seymour-Crippen House opens as a museum of the neighborhood’s history.

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2004 House of many colors The white house gets a west-facing portico (likely part of the original home) and a coat of sandstone-colored paint.

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