Olivia Newport Prairie Avenue

This is the Wheeler Mansion, now a bed and breakfast, where I had the pleasure of signing books.

Last week my brother posted on Facebook that he thought he had been in the Banning ’hood. That made me smile. The setting for my story The Pursuit of Lucy Banning is a real place!

Three years ago about this time, I was in Chicago and saw Prairie Avenue for the first time. The Glessner House Museum holds an annual event called “A Walk Through Time.”

People who attend the event have three hours to walk around the historic Prairie Avenue neighborhood and visit ten historic buildings. Most of these buildings—some of which are private homes—are not open to the public the rest of the year.

So it was a good time to get to know the Bannings’ neighbors a bit. In addition to the Glessner House, I saw the home of William W. Kimball (think piano and organ business), the Clarke House (Chicago’s oldest surviving residence dating to 1836), Second Presbyterian Church (which features in my Avenue of Dreams series), and a slew of other houses.

My eyes feasted on terra cotta porticos, cornices, limestone sheathing, a stained-glass dome, extraordinary tile work. I heard words like ascanthus, entablature, and dentil. Guides in period costumes make me look twice.

This year’s “A Walk Through Time” is Sunday, June 10. If you’re in or around Chicago, you may enjoying seeing the ’hood for yourself.