Faded architectural star of Chicago world’s fair now in peril

Faded architectural star of Chicago world’s fair now in peril

The House of Tomorrow, a modernist,12-sided exhibition home built for Chicago’s 1933 World’s Fair is among Indiana’s 10 most endangered buildings, according to the state’s leading preservation group.
The vacant, 90-year-old home is one of five surviving exhibition homes from the Century of Progress fair that were relocated to Beverly Shores, Ind. in 1934 by developer Robert Bartlett. In its announcement, Indiana Landmarks said the House of Tomorrow is “the most important and [most] deteriorated of the five.” The organization said the home is in need of an owner who can repair the property.
Designed by Chicago architects George and William Keck, the house wowed fairgoers with then unheard of features such as glass exterior walls, air conditioning, a dishwasher and automatically opening kitchen and garage doors. The home even had an airplane bay on its ground floor.
Here’s how the home originally looked:
(Courtesy Hedrich Blessing Photographers)

A close-up of the space beneath the home, taken during my visit the house two years ago, shows the deterioration:

The home and four others from the fair sit on a lakeside spot that ultimately became the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore—and are owned by the National Park Service. The park service cannot sell the homes, but had rented them out—and has not done much to maintain the houses—since the 1960s. The House of Tomorrow and the other fair homes were named to the Indiana Landmarks’ “Most Endangered” list in 1993.

In 1996, Indiana Landmarks arranged a new deal with the National Park Service that would allow residents to live in the homes for free in exchange for fixing them up. The program has helped rescue two of the homes with the most spectacular save being the Florida Tropical House, once a flamingo-colored wreck. Here it is now:

Indiana Landmarks 2012 Most Endangered list can be found here.