Keeping the Past Present

Virtual Exhibits for Access and Preservation

This project preserves and tells the story of the Town’s and region’s history. It builds on The Depot’s commitment of “Keeping the past present”.

I first met Keck when I purchased a leaseback of the Keck house on the beach as I finished training at the University of Chicago School of medicine. I had him enlarge that house, which eventually became the Glassberg house when I started construction on this current house, at 533 lakefront. The two brothers Keck designed his house with a number of ideas that I had gleaned from my previous house done by them, specifically the window construction, which I wanted very clean, without a buildup of window borders. They in turn said that what is best for the Dune is this configuration: a bridge cantilever porch on the southwest side and entrance at that bridge. The spiral staircase, at 6 feet in diameter then took up less floor space and allowed us to have four bedrooms without disrupting each level. He pointed out, correctly, that the spiral staircase of the size and shape was perfect for moving up and down the four levels, since whoever was transversing it would not have to release a solid hand hold. I elected cedar ceiling and beam construction for both aesthetic reasons and because I didn't want to deal with plaster on the ceiling for the lifetime of the house.

Of course I knew and admired his House of Tomorrow, and over the course of our long association we had many discussions. He had been one of the principle architects of the 1933 World’s fair, and incorporated such ideas as thermopane and solar provisions. He had Buckminster Fuller bring down his dymaxion airplane and had it in at the hangar alongside the house. Keck loved the Dunes and many then young architects, Stanley Tigerman, Harold Olin for two, designed houses for the Dunes. Marie Horner was quite the student of homebuilding – her house is honored with a plaque at Merrivale and Lakefront – and from her I added the insight of a screened porch open to the sky. The house was built in 1977 and it hasn’t required changes over these nearly fifty years.

Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) Notes:

Significance: The House of Tomorrow is important as an artifact of the 1933-34 Century of Progress exposition, as an early example of the work of architect George Fred Keck, and as a record of the effects of European modernism on American architecture in the 1930s. With its innovative structural system, glass walls, stripped-down ornament and modern materials, the House of Tomorrow embodied the ideals promoted by the fair and by modernist architects: science and technology as sources for design and as symbols of progress and future prosperity. After the close of the exposition in 1934, real-estate developer Robert Bartlett capitalized on this symbolic value, moving the house to Beverly Shores, Indiana in order to stimulate interest in his subdivision there.

In the depths of the Great Depression in 1933–34, the House of Tomorrow at the Chicago World’s Fair offered millions a hopeful vision of a brighter, easier future. Chicago architect George Fred Keck designed the House of Tomorrow to inspire fairgoers to want what they saw: a modern home with floor-to-ceiling glass walls, central air conditioning, an innovative open floor plan, the first General Electric dishwasher, an “iceless” refrigerator, an attached garage whose door opened at the push of a button, an attached hangar for the family airplane.