Century of Progress Houses

In 1933-1934 Chicago hosted the Century of Progress Exposition. The Home and Industrial Arts group consisted of 13 state-of-the-art homes thought to represent what residential design of the future would look like. Innovative engineering and construction technologies were exhibited at a time when the nation was in the midst of the Great Depression. All of the houses were scheduled to be demolished within six months after the close of the Exposition. However, real estate developer Robert Bartlett had a plan. He purchased six of the houses and intended to move them across Lake Michigan to his new development, Beverly Shores, Indiana. A 200-foot long pier was constructed in Beverly Shores to accommodate the barge that moved three of the homes.

Today, the Wieboldt-Rostone House, the Cypress Log House, the Florida Tropical House, the House of Tomorrow, and the Armco-Ferro Mayflower House are privately owned by people who intend to restore them to their 1930s state. The final house, Universal House’s Country Home, was destroyed by fire.

The Wieboldt-Rostone House was made of steel framing covered with Rostone slabs. Rostone was a mix of alkaline earth, shale, and limestone aggregate. It was an experimental material that was marketed as both durable and fireproof.

The Cypress Log House was the sole example of the Home and Industrial Arts group to use a traditional building material.

Set in a mountain lodge atmosphere, the Log House
had a 13-foot tall limestone fireplace in the great room. It also had a guest house that was moved to Beverly Shores.

The Florida Tropical House was constructed by the State of Florida of native materials — travertine, limestone, Portland cement and clay tile. The walls were supposed to be constructed of solid concrete but wood framing and stucco were used to save money. The house was painted pink and was unique because the flat roof was used for living pace including a loggia, deck and recreation room.

The Armco-Ferro Mayflower House was a 2-story frameless, all-steel house. Covered with porcelain steel panels, it was used to promote steel as a residential building material. It had a third-floor solarium and accompanying guest house (not moved). This house became the inspiration for Lustron houses.

The most popular of the houses was the House of Tomorrow. Over a million people stood in line to see this 3-story, 12-sided building. It had steel framing and glass walls. The first floor had a garage and airplane hangar. It also had air-conditioning and a dishwasher.

All of these houses are privately owned and restoration is proceeding. Feel free to visit but please respect the owners’ privacy.

Images

Century of Progress Houses

Century of Progress Houses

Florida Tropical House | Source: Courtesy of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore View File Details Page

Century of Progress Houses

Century of Progress Houses

House of Tomorrow | Source: Courtesy of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore View File Details Page

Street Address:

127 W Lake Front Dr, Michigan City, IN 46360 [map]

Official Website:

https://www.nps.gov/indu/learn/historyculture/centuryofprogress.htm

Cite this Page:

Indiana Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology, “Century of Progress Houses,” Discover Indiana, accessed September 21, 2018, http://indyhist.iupui.edu/items/show/200.

Share this Story