clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Live in the ‘House of Tomorrow’ from the 1933 World’s Fair

New, 2 comments

All you have to do is cough up $3 million to restore the dilapidated modernist home

Hedrich Blessing/Chicago History Museum/Courtesy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

Overlooking Lake Michigan from windswept Indiana bluff, the groundbreaking glass house architect George Fred Keck created for Chicago’s 1933-34 Century of Progress World’s Fair is seeking a dedicated lover of modern design to cover its $3 million restoration. In return, the deep-pocketed patron will be granted a 50-year sublease to use the structure as a one-of-a-kind single family home.

When it debuted at the Century of Progress, Keck’s creation offered an optimistic vision of the future and was nothing short of cutting edge. Its innovative use of a glass curtain wall was a precursor to the homes of Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson that came to define modern architecture. Other technological oddities included central air conditioning, an “iceless” refrigerator, and a push-button attached garage and airplane hanger.

After the fair, Keck’s building—along with four other structures displayed at the “House of Tomorrow” exhibit—were moved by barge from Chicago’s Northerly Island to Beverly Shores in northern Indiana, about 60 miles southeast of downtown. The site later became part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, overseen by the National Park Service.

Hedrich Blessing/Chicago History Museum/Courtesy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

While its four siblings went on to receive restorations, Keck’s House of Tomorrow continued to sit empty and deteriorate. A partnership between Indiana Landmarks and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, hope that the 50-year lease offering will entice a private party to tackle the estimated $2.5 million to $3 million project—a considerable chunk of cash to pay and not own the property.

“Leasing the House of Tomorrow offers an unparalleled opportunity to live in a stunning work of architecture that comes with an equally spectacular view,” said Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks, in a statement. “We’ve engaged a stellar team of architects and engineers, and we now have the specifications—approved by the National Park Service—to bring yesterday’s House of Tomorrow into the future as a living, sustainable home.”

A listing for the property can be viewed on the website of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In 2016, the Trust declared Keck’s House of Tomorrow a National Treasure, the first such designation in the state of Indiana.