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After renovations McCormick House reopens with revealing exhibits this summer

The original exterior of the Mies van der Rohe-designed home was hidden for 20 years

The McCormick House before the renovations
Courtesy of the Elmhurst Art Museum

The McCormick House, a single family home designed by modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, will finally stand on its own after an extensive renovation.

In 1994 the house was moved from its original location at nearby 299 Prospect Avenue to its current home next to the Elmhurst Art Museum at 150 Cottage Hill Avenue. An enclosed hallway between the structures was added in 1997, obscuring the McCormick House’s original entrance.

Two decade later, the museum decided to separate the buildings to better showcase one of only three single-family homes built in the U.S. by the famous architect.

The three-bedroom home was built in 1952 for Robert McCormick Jr., a developer and the sales agent for the Mies van der Rohe-designed 860-880 N. Lake Shore Drive apartments. The house was to serve as a prototype for the homes that McCormick and business partner, Herbert S. Greenwald, hoped to build throughout the suburbs. Although that project never got off the ground, the modular home is an early example of residential mass production—a method later known as prefab.

The Elmhurst’s Heritage Architecture Studio worked with museum executive director, John McKinnon to oversee the project. The multi-phase renovation included repainting the original exterior, unseen for nearly 20 years, and restoring on the carport and entryway. Next steps for the home include eventually renovating the interior.

As the historic McCormick House prepares to reopen on June 10, the museum will mark the occasion with new programming focusing on the home, its famous designer, and its architectural legacy.

Courtesy of the Elmhurst Art Museum
Elmhurst Art Museum

A view of the McCormick House before it was connected to the Elmhurst Museum

Mies’s McCormick House Revealed: New Views will provide background on the McCormick House including old models, plans for the prefab houses McCormick and Greenwald wanted to build, historical photographs and advertisements for the houses.

New Views will also contain a traveling photography exhibition, Glass Houses, which will help put the glass and steel McCormick House into context with other similar houses around North and South America.

Seeing Red by Inigo Manglano-Ovalle involves red-tinted window application on the McCormick House to highlight the home in a new way. The art installation gets its inspiration from McCormick and Greenwald’s plan to offer glass windows in “almost any shade of the rainbow,” for their unrealized housing project.

Other programs for the McCormick House relaunch include a members-only preview of the exhibits on June 9 along with talks by New Views curator Barry Bergdoll and Glass Houses curatorial advisor Renato Anelli.

Later on there will be a discussion on the similarities and differences between the high-profile Farnsworth House and McCormick House, which were designed by Mies van der Rohe only a year apart. A bunch of other programs are scheduled for this summer including family days, two different walking tours, an artist talk with Seeing Red creator Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, and a lecture on McCormick House from Jonathan D. Solomon of the Art Institute of Chicago