Look!: Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House

Look!: Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House

Heather Blaha
May 8, 2007

A few weeks ago, we spent a lovely day near Plano, IL. Eager for an afternoon drive into the rural Midwest, and even more eager to finally see Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House, we showed up on the gravel road a little late for our designated tour time. Even so, the folks inside were happily awaiting our arrival...

For this relatively random noon slot on a Thursday (you must book your tour in advance), we were the only visitors, so we had the luxury of a private tour on the Farnsworth grounds and into this first residential building by Mies van der Rohe.

Located along the Fox River, its place as a steel and glass modernist structure among the rustic, rural, and peaceful central Illinois landscape probably seemed like it would remain untouched when it was created in 1951. Not long after, a road was built within both view and earshot to extend over the river, and even as we listened to our guide deliver the rich, historical, and often controversial background of the home, the traffic was distracting. We can only imagine how its inhabitants felt.

The home's place among the world's most significant architecture ranks highly; most visitors come from other parts of the world. As one of those places practically right under our noses here in Chicago, it's not a visit to be missed. Deemed a "museum" by the National Trust of Historic Preservation, we were required to remove our shoes before entering, reminded not to touch anything, and told no interior photos were allowed.

Check out a few interior shots here on the official Farnsworth House website.

Read Architecture Week's account about how the Farnsworth House was "saved" in 2003 (thanks largely to the National Trust).

We'd love to see this place when the trees are full and it becomes a true summer house, as it was meant to be. Who else has been for a visit?

(All photos by Matthew Shallenberger.)

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