October 17, 2011 Mid-Century Modern
The Homes of Tomorrow, Today
I hope you were able to get to the National Building Museum’s Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s, which closed recently. The first-of-its-kind exhibit highlighted the innovative design displayed at the world’s fairs of the 1930s. One of the most interesting sections of the exhibit was on homes featuring the latest in modern technology and convenience that were introduced and marketed to the fair goers. The 1933 fair in Chicago–the theme was a Century of Progress–highlighted the Homes of Tomorrow Exhibition, a dozen, mostly modern-style homes that sat along lake Michigan.
After the fair, developer Robert Bartlett purchased five of the homes, the Wieboldt-Rostone House, the House of Tomorrow, the Florida Tropical House, the Armco-Ferro House and the Cypress Log Cabin, loaded them on barges and floated them across Lake Michigan to Beverly Shores, Indiana, where is was developing a new resort community. (The log cabin was dismantled and trucked to Indiana.) Bartlett bought the homes so he could use them as a marketing device to bring people to see his development.
Today the houses are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are in various states of repair. The houses have been leased to the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana. In turn, private individuals or families have leased the homes and are rehabilitating them. On my my way back home from my recent visit to Chicago, I drove through Beverly Shores to see these landmark homes. In addition to these homes, there are a number of other modern homes in the lakeside community, including a National Register-designated home by Swiss architect Otto Kolb. I even spotted a Lustron amid the sand dunes.