PULLMAN — The 48th annual Historic Pullman House Tour is coming back after a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
From 11 a.m.-5 p.m Saturday and Sunday, Chicagoans can tour seven Far South Side homes built in the late 1800s. Visitors can go inside the homes and learn about the community’s culture, architecture and history. The event typically attract hundreds of people.
“You have everything from pretty, fancy houses to a very simple workers cottage or a rooming house,” said Pat Brannon, a co-chair of the Pullman Civic Organization. “We’ve tried to include all those possibilities in our tour.”
Attendees will receive a booklet with information on each home and a map. People are free to wander the homes, but social distancing is required.
The house tours are organized by the Pullman Civic Organization and the Historic Pullman Foundation, which find homes for the event and organize other activities for the weekend.
This year, there will be a classic car show, garage sales, food vendors, a bandstand and more alongside the tours. The historical Greenstone United Methodist Church will also be open for visitors.
Brannon said the tour is a good chance to see the different things buyers can do with a historical Pullman home.
“The [home’s] front facades have a certain amount of uniformity,” Brannon said. “But the insides are very different from each other. Some of the homes are restored to look sort of like they might have worked when they were built. … Some of the homes have more contemporary interiors, so you get a wide variety of houses.”
For this year’s event, there will also be newer structures to tour. Attendees can see two homes in one of Pullman’s newest buildings the Pullman Artspace Lofts. The building has 38 housing units for artists and their families. Established in 2019, the building features two historical rooming houses, one at each end of the block, and infill housing in the middle.
Another newer addition to the neighborhood being spotlighted this weekend is the Pullman House Project Welcome Center. This weekend, the public can tour the yet-to-be-opened center and learn about preservation and restoration work in the community.
“The welcome center is going to be the kickoff for when people come to Pullman and they want to view the interior of these homes to see what it was like living in Pullman various periods of time,” said Cindy McMahon, board member and former president of the Historic Pullman Foundation.
One of the homes being featured this weekend belongs to Margaret Kania, a South Sider with an interest in history who moved to Pullman a year ago after attending previous house tours with her sister.
“The two of us were just instantly in love with the neighborhood,” Kania said. “Besides architecturally, there was the history. We were just drawn to how everyone was so friendly, so welcoming. Everybody knew each other, and there seemed to be so many things going on in the neighborhood. And that was just from a weekend visit. I just fell in love with it.”
Kania, a former Chicago Public Schools teacher, made it a point to go on house tours every year when she could. A few years before she was set to retire, Kania began thinking about where she wanted to put new roots. Pullman is where she decided to settle — the house tours being a big reason why.
“You see a lot of individuality,” Kania said. “There are some places where people might have expanded rooms. There’s some homes that have really kept a lot of history alive with the pieces that they have in their home. You get to see a lot of what’s important to people.
“You see the outside and you truly can’t imagine what’s inside behind those doors. You get wowed by looking outside and noticing the outside details and each block tells a story. But then when you get to go inside and you’re just like, ‘Wow, this is cool.’”
Now, Kania is excited to be participating in the tours, this time as the owner of one of the featured homes.
Kania is looking forward to displaying her kitchen ceiling, which still has its original rafters from the 1880s, as well as souvenirs from her travels and family photos.
“I’m proud of my home,” Kania said. “I’m proud of my neighborhood.”
Safety protocols regarding COVID-19 will be observed during the event. To prevent long waits at the beginning of the tour route, event organizers encourage participants to try starting at the end. Masks are required for home tours.
Tickets for the tours are $25 for adults and $20 for seniors at the door.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast” here: