Century of Progress Homes
Photo credits: Indiana Dunes National Park
Originally built for the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, these five historic Century of Progress Homes are part of the Indiana Dunes National Park. Tours of these fully or partially restored homes are available by reservation only one day each October. Visitors have the opportunity to view each of the five homes: the Cypress Log Cabin, the House of Tomorrow, Florida Tropical, Armco Ferro, and the Wieboldt-Rostone house.
The theme of the 1933 Chicago World's Fair was "Century of Progress." In keeping with that theme, these houses were built featuring modern appliances like dishwashers and air conditioners, innovative materials and new construction techniques.
Moved later by barge to the shores of Northwest Indiana, these homes are being restored with private funds through a partnership with Indiana Landmarks.
Cypress Log Cabin
This home was named after the material of which it was made and resembles a classic log cabin that you would find in the woods.
Designed by Murray D. Heatherington, he wanted to show the many different uses of cypress which are highlighted in this home.
House of Tomorrow
West of the Cypress Log Cabin, there is the House of Tomorrow. This home was so ahead of its time back in 1934, that it still looks futuristic today.
The main floor was designed as a service area which also contains an airplane hangar, as then many believed in the future it wasn’t odd that we would all own airplanes.
This home originally had a curtain wall system as well that would keep the solar heat in during the winter. This was changed out for windows when moved to Beverly Shores to have better airflow.
Known also as the “Pink House that stands out on Lake Front Drive was designed by a Miami architect named Robert Law Weed.
Bringing the indoor and outdoor spaces together was his goal with this home, and that he did with the open roof terraces and overhanging balcony. You could also say the bright pink hue feels tropical no matter what the weather in Northwest Indiana.
This home was the only one of the five that met the standard for the Fair Committee’s criteria: “A house that could be mass produced and was affordable for the average American family.”
This home was made of porcelain-enameled steel panels produced by Ferro Enamel Corporation and could be placed on any side without damaging the structure.
This home located on the north side of Lake Front Drive was framed in steel but clad with an experimental material called “Rostone.” This material was made of shale, limestone, and alkali and proved to not be as sturdy as originally hoped.
Much of the home was repaired soon after using a concrete stucco, although you can still see remnants of the Rostone in certain areas.
The special tours of the homes are sponsored by the Dunes National Park Association, a nonprofit organization that supports the protection, preservation and promotion of Indiana Dunes National Park.
Keep your eyes on our Indiana Dunes events page for the annual tour date and times once it is announced.
Interested in learning more?
The book "Saving a Century of Progress” details the struggles of the homes and the stories of the individuals who have dedicated both time and treasure to assure their continued existence.
The book was assembled by the Dunes National Park Association (DNPA). Book purchases and donations help them continue on their mission of supporting the Indiana Dunes National Park. Learn more about the book here.