Murder in a Nutshell - Atlas Obscura
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Chicago, Illinois

Murder in a Nutshell

Spend an evening with Frances Glessner Lee - heiress, millionaire, and crimefighter.

Heiress to an unimaginable fortune and raised in a world of wealth and decadence, Frances Glessner Lee used her privilege not to live a life of leisure, but to fight crime. This turn-of-the-century Chicago socialite helped develop modern crime scene investigation techniques through the creation of her Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death—dollhouse-sized murder scenes used for decades to teach detectives how to look for clues.

The evening will begin with a tour of the famous Glessner house, a renowned 19th-century architectural masterpiece on the National Register of Historic places. The fantastic opulence of Chicago's high society still rings through the halls - the mansion is fully intact, including original furnishings and decor.

After the tour, the group will retire from gilded-age glamour to a grisly murder scene in the garage, recreated a la Frances Glessner Lee’s famous Nutshell Studies. True crime writer Marianne Koerfer (author of Zodiac Cracked: The Manifestations of a Killer) will take us through how a detective, using techniques first honed by Frances Glessner Lee, would investigate a murder. The evening will end with a discussion about Frances herself, examining the legends surrounding her to discover the fact from the fiction in this strange Chicagoan's fabled life.


  • Meet Field Agent Matt Holmes in front of The Glessner House, 1800 S. Prairie Avenue.
  • Please arrive 10 minutes early to check in with Matt before the tour starts.
  • The tour will run rain, sun, or snow, and is almost entirely indoors.
  • The tour is accessible, however the historic house has a limited amount of stairs for the house tour.
  • Restrooms will be available.
  • This ticket is non-refundable, but you can transfer it by following this handy Eventbrite tutorial.


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Advance ticket sales only. All ticket sales are final. No refunds or exchanges.