A Dream Home to Restore
July 20, 2008
BY CHARLES M. BARTHOLOMEW, Post-Tribune Correspondent

The first full week of July marked a milestone for a Chicago couple's five-year labor to restore one of the 75-year-old Century of Progress Homes from the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, now perched atop a high foredune along Lake Front Drive in Beverly Shores.

"Today we finally have all the glass in the solarium done.  And we got the roof up, so the inside stays dry now," said Chrisoph Lichtenfeld, 66, a retired General Motors engineer, originally from Hamburg, Germany.  He and his wife Charlotta are turning the house into a family retreat for themselves and their six children, who are 20 to 40 years old.

Lichtenfeld and his wife Charlotta travel to Indiana every day from Chicago, where he is vice-chairman of the Chicago-Hamburg sister city committee.  "The view is beautiful.  Unbelievable.  This was what sold us on the house (Armco-Ferro House)," he said.  Nearness to Chicago and the seclusion of living on top of a sand dune gave it extra appeal as a family retreat, he said.

Lichtenfeld said he saved a lot of money by enlisting Ironworkers Local 395 in Hammond, letting them use the house as a training site for up to 14 apprentices in 2006 and 2007, which won the project an award for innovation.

The homes are leased for 30 years at no cost, but the lessee agrees to undertake restoration by investing all the money in the house.

The 1933 World's Fair Century of Progress Homes:

The Century of Progress Homes were visited by more than a million people at the Chicago World's Fair of 1933-34.  Developer Robert Bartlett bought the five houses and moved them by barge to Beverly Shores to lure buyers to his new resort community.


Architect:  Robert Law Weed
Sponsor:  State of Florida, to showcase Florida and entice tourism.

Florida Tropical House

The Florida Tropical House, designed by Miami, Florida architect, Robert Law Weed, is located on the lake side, immediately east of the Rostone House.  Once a bright pink color, this spacious two-story house was designed to conform to Florida's sub-tropical weather by blending outdoor and indoor environments.  [Its] rooms were built with high ceilings to allow the maximum amount of outdoor air to pass through the house, while the roof deck gave residents the opportunity to enjoy the evening breezes so common to Florida.  An interior shiny reflective surface enhanced the spaciousness while at the same time minimized household cleaning chores.  The original flat roof, once covered with ceramic tiles[,] had to be replaced and built up with roofing to make the structure capable of withstanding the harsh mid-western winters. 

Framed with wood and finished in light concrete and stucco.  Design brings together two-story living room with an overhanging balcony and terrace on the roof.  Current lease began in 1998.  Sinking toward the lake, the house was shored up with 91 concrete piles in 2006-07, radiant heating system installed in 2007-08.


Architect:  Murray D. Heatherington
Sponsor:  Southern Cypress Association, to demonstrate the unique qualities and uses of cypress.

Cypress Log Cabin

Built by the Southern Cypress Manufacturers, this cabin, along with its guest house, was constructed to demonstrate the durability and versatility of cypress by displaying various finished and construction styles that could be applied to this natural product.  Designed by architect Murray D. Heatherington, it was a traditional style unlike other structures displayed at the Fair.  With a mountain lodge atmosphere, the fences, benches, arbors, and bridges were all made of cypress and decorated with cypress knees carved to suggest animal heads, reptiles, and fantasy creatures.  Its large living room had a limestone fireplace and was furnished with various items carved out of cypress logs.  Twelve different types of Cypress were used both inside and outside the cabin.

Wood-framed and using cypress siding, built with a mountain lodge atmosphere, originally with fences, arbors and bridges decorated with animals and fantasy creatures carved from cypress knees.  None of the carvings was transported from the fair.  Being restored as a year-round residence, this house required the greatest number of changes, including oak flooring and cedar siding.


Architect:  Robert Smith Jr. of Cleveland, Ohio
Sponsor:  American Rolling Mills and Ferro Enamel Corp., to showcase steel and porcelain for home construction.

Armco-Ferro House

One door west of the imposing House of Tomorrow is the Armco-Ferro House, designed by Cleveland architect Robert Smith Jr.  It is the only remaining example from the fair that met the Fair Committee's design criteria; a house that could be mass- produced and was affordable for the average American family.  This seemingly frameless house boasts a revolutionary construction system: corrugated steel panels that are bolted together.  This system resembles a typical cardboard box; it could be placed on its bottom, side, or top without damaging the structure.  The corrugated panels are clad with porcelain-enameled steel panels produced by the Ferro Enamel Corporation.  This construction system later provided the inspiration for the post World War II prefabricated housing developed by the Lustron Corporation.  Several examples of Lustron houses can still be seen in Beverly Shores

First home to use frameless steel construction and exterior enamel sheathing, "the grandmother" of post-World War II Lustron houses that can be seen in Chesterton and Valparaiso.  Work began in 2005 and quickly encountered major interior deterioration requiring removal of damaged material prior to any restoration.  Lessee hopes to complete work by 2010.


Architect:  Walter Scholar of Lafayette
Sponsor:  Rostone Corp. of Lafayette, to showcase the new material composed of shale, limestone, and alkali developed by a Purdue graduate student.

Wieboldt-Rostone House     Wieboldt-Rostone House in transit on Lake Michigan
[The Weiboldt-Rostone House being floated on a barge from Chicago to Beverly Shores, circa 1934]

The Wieboldt-Rostone House was designed by architect Walter Scholer of Lafayette, Indiana and was built to demonstrate that a home could be elegant and durable as well as affordable.  Mr. Scholer gave the house a Mediterranean atmosphere by constructing it with Rostone, a new, inexpensive, synthetic stone composed of limestone and shale.  The house is made of a prefabricated steel frame and covered with preformed plates of Rostone, all of which could be easily assembled on site.  Today, Rostone is considered to be the stone equivalent to plywood.  It is not very durable and has since eroded off much of the house.  The only remaining Rostone to be found is at the edging of the Art-Deco inspired doorway; the rest has peen replaced with permastone.

Framed in steel and clad in "Rostone," it was reclad in Perma-Stone in the 1950s when the original material failed.  Amazingly, the house, which will be restored with a Rostone exterior, did not collapse.  The lessee called it "a jigsaw puzzle that has lost a lot of pieces." More than 200 steel columns have been repaired since 2002.

Architect:  George Fred Keck of Chicago.
Sponsor:  Keck, "To contemplate the design of houses of the future," using new glass construction materials.

House of Tomorrow

House of Tomorrow Framing

The House of Tomorrow was the creation of Chicago architects George and William Keck.  This three-story, 12-sided structure of steel contained two large garages, one for a car and one for the airplane that the World's Fair optimists assumed every family would soon have.  Originally this wedding cake style home had large panels of glass for walls.  These have since been replaced by smaller windows which can be opened.  The House of Tomorrow had central air conditioning, electric garage door openers, lights that could be adjusted to dim, and a dishwasher:  all very modern technologies for 1933.

Original floor plan included space for an airplane, garage and machine shop.  Steel-framed with a second-floor curtain wall system that Bartlett replaced to provide operable windows.  Restoration will replace curtain wall glass.

Source:  Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

BEVERLY SHORES LINK  ==> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beverly_Shores,_Indiana

Return to:   GARY PAGE


 = BLOG IT => [Category:  Gary, Indiana - The "Steel City"]

Created 20 Jul 2008 - 20:24:33 Hrs.

2008, G. David Yaros.  All rights reserved.