McCormick House in Elmhurst now open for tours with mid-century modern furnishings

Sarah Franklin, collections an exhibitions manager of the Elmhurst Art Museum, takes a tour group through the McCormick House on Dec. 29, 2019.

Sarah Franklin, collections an exhibitions manager of the Elmhurst Art Museum, takes a tour group through the McCormick House on Dec. 29, 2019. (Jesse Wright / Pioneer Press)

Architecture fans can get a rare glimpse inside a Mies van der Rohe home through Jan. 12 in Elmhurst.

The Elmhurst Art Museum is offering guided tours of the McCormick House—sometimes with former residents on hand— replete with mid-century modern furnishings.

Van der Rohe is known for his international style of modern architecture, featuring an aesthetic that focused on spare lines and open spaces.

Sarah Franklin, collections and exhibitions manager at the museum, said the space has long been a highlight of the museum, and is often used as an office or events space.

The museum recently furnished the circa 1952 home—once located on Prospect Avenue—and created a display reflecting how the interior of the house might have been decorated more than six decades ago.

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“This is the first time the house has been fully furnished with mid-century furniture,” Franklin said. “It’s a great opportunity to take people through and talk about the history of the house, and give them an idea of what the house looked like when it was built.”

The McCormick House, one of Mies van der Rohe's few American houses, is on display in Elmhurst with furnishings.
The McCormick House, one of Mies van der Rohe’s few American houses, is on display in Elmhurst with furnishings. (Jesse Wright / Pioneer Press)

Van der Rohe is mostly notable for his large projects, including his glass and steel apartment buildings on Lake Shore Drive, but officials said he designed very few homes in the United States, making the McCormick house special.

The house was moved from its original location in 1994, and opened as part of the museum in 1997, where it served as the museum’s administrative offices for years.

Franklin said the current exhibit is a rare opportunity for architecture fans and anyone interested in mid-century aesthetics.

“I think it’s important, because the house has not always been fully furnished like this, and to have someone take you around and to see the original furniture is important,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to see the house and to see it decorated for the holidays.”

The house tours have attracted attention locally and beyond.

Juan Gutierrez, a visitor from Kansas City, said he stopped by with his husband because of the rare chance to visit a van der Rohe home.

“There aren’t many examples of this type of architecture,” he said. “It was just great to see this style.”

In addition to the period-specific décor, architecture fans can also get a glimpse into the home’s history on Jan. 5, when Mary Dreiser, a former resident of the McCormick House, will be on hand during the tour.

“She lived in the house, and she talks about her experiences with her brother,” Franklin said.

[“source=chicagotribune”]