McCormick House – Past, Present, Future

Saturday, Sep 14, 2019 – Jan 12, 2020

150 Cottage Hill Ave.
Elmhurst, IL 60126

Weekly Tours:

Sunday afternoons, starting Sept. 15, 1pm and 3pm

New weekly house tours will invite visitors to explore the McCormick House history with Museum docents and special guides, including a former resident.


(July 2, 2019) For the first time ever, the Elmhurst Art Museum (150 South Cottage Hill Avenue) will exhibit a full 1950s domestic representation of its Mies van der Rohe McCormick House (1952), highlighting this rare single-family home in the Museum’s collection.  McCormick House – Past, Present, Future will present visitors with classic mid-Century furniture of the time period as well as historic images showing how residents lived in the home and explanations about the preservation and restoration process currently underway. Further, the walls will highlight a timeline of events and photos dating back to the building’s conception, including anecdotes and stories about the home’s residents. McCormick House – Past, Present, Future will be on view September 14, 2019 – January 12, 2020and is organized in conjunction with the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

As curated by veteran Chicago architect & interior designer Robert Kleinschmidt, the exhibition will prove how livable, inviting, and human a Mies-designed home can be with period décor. This work continues Kleinschmidt’s relationship with the house; last Fall, commemorating the separation of the House from the main museum building, he introduced a partial period installation in the home’s ‘children’s wing,’ captivating visitors. 

“After walking under the restored carport and crossing a new threshold, visitors have better appreciated Mies van der Rohe’s designs for the McCormick House,” says Elmhurst Art Museum Executive Director John McKinnon. “We are excited to further educate and inspire our public by addressing the house’s interior. Rob’s exhibition will help our guests understand its domestic scale through period furniture and illustrate its history as a residence.”

About the McCormick House

In 1952, the renowned modern architect Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) designed a home for Robert Hall McCormick III, a member of Chicago’s most prominent families, and his wife, the poet Isabella Gardner. The house was later lived in by families of Arthur and Marilyn Sladek, Ray and Mary Ann Fick, and then purchased by the Elmhurst Art Museum for a new arts complex. The house is a rare and important example of Mies van der Rohe’s mature style, incorporating elements of his celebrated designs for the Farnsworth House (1951) and 860-880 Lake Shore Drive (1951). The McCormick House—one of only three single-family homes designed by Mies in the United States—originally served two purposes: it was a home for the McCormick family and a prototype for a proposed group of smaller, affordable mass-produced modular homes in the western Chicago suburbs that McCormick and co-developer Herbert S. Greenwald were hoping to build. However, the cutting-edge, high-end buildings were not met with enough buyers to begin construction. The house became part of the Elmhurst Art Museum’s campus in 1994, and important restoration efforts have been recently undertaken.  In 2018,the McCormick House’s façade and Mies van der Rohe’s original carport design were revealed for the first time in nearly twenty-five years.

Simultaneous with theMcCormick House – Past, Present, Future,Elmhurst Art Museum will be mountingWhat Came After: Figurative Painting in Chicago 1978-98—also September 14, 2019 - January 12, 2020—a survey of diverse interests in the figure as a subject, the human condition, and an interest in personal iconography.


Images: Left- Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, McCormick House Living Room, 1950s, Blessing Archive, Chicago Historical Society

Right- Installation view of McCormick House. Photo by Jim Prinz