History of the Samuel M. Nickerson Mansion

The Samuel M. Nickerson House, exterior from the southeast, circa 1883.

“… a private home which, better than any other possible selection, may stand as a representative of the new impulse now felt in national life. The country, at this moment, is just beginning to be astonishing. Re-cemented by the fortunate result of a civil war, endowed as with a diploma of rank by the promulgation of its centenary, it has begun to re-invent everything, and especially the house.”

— Edward Strahan, Mr. Vanderbilt’s House and Collection, 1883

In 1879, Chicago banker Samuel Mayo Nickerson commissioned a new house from the architectural firm of Burling and Whitehouse of Chicago. Edward Burling (1819–1892), who held the distinction of being one of the city’s earliest professional architects, had previously designed the First National Bank building in Chicago, of which Nickerson became president in 1867. Burling’s junior partner, Francis Meredith Whitehouse (1848–1938), was the son of a prosperous New York family, and had studied architecture at the University of Göttingen, Germany. While Burling and Whitehouse served as the architects for the house, the responsibility for the elaborate interiors themselves was placed in the capable hands of a number of highly skilled decorators, William August Fiedler (1843–1903), and the firms George A. Schastey & Co. and R. W. Bates & Co.

Click here for a slideshow of historic images with letters, newspaper articles, and more.

Preservation

The Richard H. Driehaus Museum embodies the highest ideals of preservation, conservation, and restoration. Between 2003 and 2008, Richard H. Driehaus supported a meticulous restoration of the historic Samuel M. Nickerson House. Read more

The History of the Samuel M. Nickerson Mansion

In 1879, Chicago banker Samuel Mayo Nickerson commissioned a new house from the architectural firm of Burling and Whitehouse of Chicago. Read more