Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: architecture, Chicago

The art & architecture in Chicago is amazing.
And so often, I’ve walked past it for years and never quite stopped inside.
Well, today I visited the Palmer House in downtown Chicago and was amazed!

The story of downtown Chicago’s Palmer House is one of romance
and undeniable charm. Potter Palmer was a well-known Chicago business magnate.
She, a stylish socialite and philanthropist.

An introduction by his former business partner, Marshall Fields, sparked a romance
that led to perhaps one of the most extravagant wedding gifts of all time –
a Grand Chicago Hotel destined to take it’s place among the most luxurious hotels
in Chicago and the world.

Tragically, just thirteen days after its Grand Opening, the Palmer House fell victim
to the Great Chicago Fire. Determined to rebuild his luxury downtown Chicago hotel,
the Palmer House namesake secured a $1.7 million loan – negotiated on his signature alone.
On November 8, 1873, the new Palmer House welcomed its first guests, marking the
opening of what would become the nation’s oldest continually operating hotel.

Shortly after befriending Claude Monet in France, Bertha Palmer began decorating
the Palmer House with artistic treasures inspired by her French heritage, eventually
accumulating the largest collection of impressionist art outside of France.
The Palmer House was bedecked with garnet-draped chandeliers, Louis Comfort Tiffany
masterpieces, and at its heart, a breathtaking ceiling fresco by French painter
Louis Pierre Rigal, which was described by columnist George Will as “a wonderful protest
of romance against the everydayness of life.”

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