Friday, May 4, 2012

Indiana Landmarks 10 Most Endangered: House of Tomorrow

Cellophane curtains, rubber floors, ashtrays and lampshades like kitchen utensils, and kitchen utensils like parlor ornaments, tables that rise up in the air like a Joshua tree, enameled walls and wooden dishes, furniture made of mirrors, game boards inlaid on the floor, these are some of the brand new ideas which puzzle and fascinate the crowds shuffling through the model houses around Home-Planning hall.
World's Fair Weekly

To Hoosier architects and designers, visiting the 1933 Century of Progress International Exposition held in nearby Chicago, must have been the highlight of their summer. Intended to celebrate Chicago's 100 year anniversary, the fair featured the latest innovations in architecture, design, products,transportation, science, and technology.

One of the prominent displays at the exposition was The Homes of Tomorrow exhibition that showcased thirteen houses designed for modern and, sometimes, futuristic living. Five of the houses--the Florida Tropical, Rostone, Armco Ferro, Cypress Log Cabin, and the House of Tomorrow--were purchased after the exposition and moved to Beverly Shores, Indiana, where they provide breathtaking views of Lake Michigan.

You can see the houses as they were on display in these pictures from the booklet that architect Fran E. Schroeder purchased when he attended the exposition in July 1933. He brought back other ephemera from his trip, all of which can be found in his collection at the Archives. Another architect, Leslie F. Ayres, sketched drawings while he was there. A few years later Ayres would design Muncie's Wilkinson House, a house that also makes an appearance on this year's 10 Most Endangered list.

Decades at the shore haven't been kind to the houses and Indiana Landmarks has partnered with the National Park Service to allow long-term leases to people dedicated to restoring these buildings. I recently had the privilege to tour all but the House of Tomorrow, which is the only one that hasn't found a benefactor. The luxury house once featured a garage for the family car and airplane, but today it is in poor condition and on this year's 10 Most Endangered list.

Taken during my visit, the photograph below shows the completely renovated Florida Tropical house taken from the vantage point of the balcony belonging to its neighbor across the street, the nearly complete Armco Ferro house.

Images: World's Fair Weekly, week ending July 22, 1933. Fran E. Schroeder Architectural Records, Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries. 
Florida Tropical House, 2012. Photograph by Carol Street.

No comments:

Post a Comment