House of Tomorrow in the Spotlight at Palm Springs' Modernism Week

January 6, 2017 by Tim Mikulski

House of Tomorrow, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana

photo by: Hedrich Blessing/Chicago History Museum

Although Palm Springs, California, is a long way away from the Chicago area, the home of the House of Tomorrow, that isn't stopping two events connecting the two during Modernism Week being held February 16-26, 2017.

The annual event, which celebrates and fosters appreciation of midcentury architecture and design, will take a deep dive into our work with America's first glass house on February 25 from 11:30-12:30 pm. The description is as follows:

Widely regarded as one of the most innovative and influential houses in modern architectural design, the House of Tomorrow, recently declared a National Treasure, is set for restoration through a partnership of Indiana Landmarks, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Park Service.

Todd Zeiger, director of Indiana Landmarks’ northern regional office, explores the history of the house, beginning with its construction for the 1933-34 Century of Progress World’s Fair in Chicago, the futuristic attributes of George Fred Keck’s design, how it came to reside in Indiana and the recently launched restoration project.

Keck’s innovations promised an easier life for people grappling with the Great Depression. Wildly popular, the house drew over 1.2 million people who paid an extra 10 cents to tour the house. After the Fair, the House of Tomorrow, along with four other Century of Progress homes, were purchased by developer Roger Bartlett and barged across Lake Michigan to their current location in Beverly Shores, Indiana, a town he attempted to develop as a vacation destination for Chicagoans.

Chicago Bauhaus and Beyond has graciously coordinated two scheduled home tours the day before (February 24 from Noon-3:00pm and 1:00-4:00pm), which will further explore the Palm Springs/Chicago connection with all proceeds benefiting the restoration of the House of Tomorrow:

One residence is a one-of-a-kind custom home built in 1960 as a vacation get-away for the Morses, a Chicago couple relocated to Los Angeles. Designated a Palm Springs Class 1 Historic site, the residence is now owned by musicians Joan and Gary Gand, founders of the Chicago Bauhaus and Beyond preservation group and active in the House of Tomorrow restoration project.

The second residence is the Leff/Florsheim house designed in 1957 by Donald Wexler AIA, of Wexler and Harrison. The former residence of Harold Florsheim, of Florsheim Shoes in Chicago, it has been meticulously restored, adding in conveniences for modern living today. Floating walls, terrazzo flooring and numerous intimate vignettes encompass the property with mountain vistas serving as a backdrop through floor to ceiling glass and atriums.

So, if you happen to be attending Modernism Week in Palm Springs be sure to check out both events supporting the restoration of the House of Tomorrow!

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