Though less famous than its Farnsworth House sibling in Plano, Illinois, the modernist McCormick House in suburban Elmhurst is about to receive a major renovation. One of just three single family homes designed by famed architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the 1952 steel and glass structure will be restored back to its original mid-century appearance.
Built for Robert McCormick Jr.—the sales agent for Mies' apartment project at 860-880 N. Lake Shore Drive—the home was moved from its original location in 1994 and attached to the Elmhurst Museum of Art via a 15-foot-long corridor three years later. This passageway obscured the main facade of the house, essentially “camouflaging one of the most prized objects in the museum's collection,” wrote Chicago Tribune architecture columnist Blair Kamin.
The upcoming restoration will see the corridor removed plus the addition of new landscaping selected to subtly compliment the structure instead of distract from its design. The home’s long-gone original carport will also be reconstructed under the plan.
Previously used for administrative offices, the revamped McCormick House is expected be used primarily as exhibition space. Visitors to the museum got an early preview of the home’s untapped potential last year when it was staged as a swingin’ mid-century bachelor pad as part of a Playboy-inspired art exhibit.
Scheduled for completion later this year, the project is expected to cost between $350,000 to $400,000. Elmhurst-based Heritage Architecture Studio is overseeing the restoration and will team with Berglund Construction, who worked on the recent renovation of the Farnsworth House.
- McCormick House project aims to restore Mies gem [Chicago Tribune]
- One Of Just 3 Modernist Mies Houses Ever Built Is Being Restored [Chicagoist]
- The McCormick House [Elmhurst Art Museum]