MICHAWAKA, Ind. (WSBT) - Right now Indiana Landmarks is offering a chance to live in a one-of-a-kind historic home, rent-free for 50 years. The catch? You have to restore it...to the tune of about $2.5 million.
The home is right on Lake Michigan -- inside the newly designated Indiana Dunes National Park. It was moved there after Chicago’s 1933 World’s Fair. Indiana Landmarks is looking for someone to restore the home. In exchange, you'll get a 50-year lease.
The House of Tomorrow needs a lot of work today.
“We’d say 60 to 70 percent is still in place,” says Todd Zeiger, the director of the Norther Regional Office of Indiana landmarks.
The home was designed by Chicago architect George Fred Keck. It was a popular attraction at the 1933-34 Century of Progress Exhibition. Visitors toured homes to see advancements in science and technology and a glimpse into the future.
“It was just a vision. He (Keck) was trying to say, hey this is how we would be living in 100 years,” says Zeiger.
There was a dishwasher, an open floor plan and an attached garage -- things unheard of in 1933.
“So you think about how people lived then, if you had a car or a garage, the garage was separate from the house. You parked your car outside. You wouldn’t bring the horse inside so you wouldn’t bring the car inside. That is how people were thinking. But by the 30s they were thinking maybe we could do something different. So these houses all had single car garages where you could pull your car into the house. Pretty forward thinkingpretty much standard today,” says Zeiger.
The home also included an airplane hangar.
The House of Tomorrow and 4 other “Century of Progress” homes were moved by barge to Beverly shores after the fair.
The houses were sold and were privately owned until the land became part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Homeowners became lessees and that's when the buildings began deteriorating.
Over the past couple decades Indiana Landmarks leased the houses from the Park Service and subleased them to people who could restore them.
“The other four have been restored by heroes just like we are looking for the House of Tomorrow. They are the ones that have come in, put their time and talent and treasure into restoring these houses,” says Zeiger.
The House of Tomorrow is the last of the homes to be renovated. That is because it has some big challenges and will likely need about $2.5 million in work.
Is a duodecagon -- it has 12 sides. It is estimated to be around five thousand square feet. The ground level was designed as workspace. The top two floors were designed to be all plate glass.
Despite the deterioration many of the original features remain, including the metal staircase and the modern metal kitchen.
And restoration would have to follow preservation standards and would include an approval process. Zeiger says the end result will be worth it.
“They (the homes) still draw attention all these years later. People come across them. Just like at the fair. Millions came through these houses because people were so fascinated by them. It continues today,” says Zeiger.