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updated: 10/1/2013 1:35 PM

Public gets rare opportunity to see historic Schweikher House

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  • The public can get a rare glimpse inside the historic Schweikher House in Schaumburg this Saturday when it'll open up for tours. It's just the second time the home built by famed Modernist architect Robert Paul Schweikher has been open to the public.

       The public can get a rare glimpse inside the historic Schweikher House in Schaumburg this Saturday when it'll open up for tours. It's just the second time the home built by famed Modernist architect Robert Paul Schweikher has been open to the public.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • The public can get a rare glimpse inside the historic Schweikher House in Schaumburg this Saturday when it'll open up for tours. It's just the second time the home built by famed Modernist architect Robert Paul Schweikher has been open to the public.

       The public can get a rare glimpse inside the historic Schweikher House in Schaumburg this Saturday when it'll open up for tours. It's just the second time the home built by famed Modernist architect Robert Paul Schweikher has been open to the public.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
 

A rare opportunity to tour Schaumburg's historic Schweikher House will be part of an international building-conservation committee's national tour day on Saturday.

Hourly guided tours of the house, studio and grounds designed by Modernist architect Robert Paul Schweikher for his own use in 1938 will run from 10 a.m. through 2 p.m. on the 7.5-acre property at 645 S. Meacham Road.

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The 40-minute tours will cost $25 per person, paid in advance, with a maximum of 15 people per tour. Proceeds will go to the Schweikher House Preservation Trust, its Executive Director Todd Wenger said.

The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and recognized by The American Institute of Architects as one of the top 150 architectural sites in Illinois.

Saturday's US Tour Day is organized by Docomomo -- the international committee for the documentation and conservation of buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the modern movement.

Featuring details in redwood, brick and glass, Schweikher's house in Schaumburg was influenced by both Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie style and Japanese architecture.

After Schweikher moved to Yale University in 1953, the 4,800-square-foot house was bought by physicist Alexander Langsdorf, whose work contributed to the atomic bomb, and his professional artist wife, Martyl.

The Langsdorfs both came to regret the use of the atomic bomb and Martyl created the iconic image of the Doomsday Clock -- an indicator of how far humanity is from destruction by nuclear weapons and other technologies -- for the cover of the June 1947 issues of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

The village of Schaumburg bought the house in 1999 when the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago threatened to condemn it for an expansion of the John E. Egan Water Reclamation Plant.

Under an agreement with the village, the widowed Martyl Langsdorf was allowed to continue living in the house for the rest of her life. She died in March at the age of 96.

There has been only one previous public tour of the house, a year ago, when Langsdorf was still there to greet visitors, Wenger said.

Without a permanent resident, opportunities for tours should be somewhat more frequent, he added.

"We do hope to open it up more often -- at least a couple times a year," Wenger said.

Beyond tours, the trust anticipates hosting other kinds of events and programming at the "museum house" in the future.

For more information and to register for Saturday's tours, email info@schweikherhouse.org or call Wenger at (847) 923-3866 by Friday afternoon.

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