Visitors to the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair (theme: Century of Progress) attended to see innovations in architecture, science, technology and transportation. The up-to-date (and somewhat futuristic) architecture, design, and building materials were fully on display at the “Homes of Tomorrow” exhibition.
After the exposition ended in 1934, real estate developer Robert Bartlett purchased five of the homes to put on display at his new lake side resort, Beverly Shores, in Indiana. Four of the buildings were loaded onto barges and floated across the lake, while the fifth was dismantled, moved by truck, and reassembled at the site.
Over the years, the houses have passed through various owners, ending up with the National Park Service (NPS) and the houses are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Time and weather have not been kind to the houses, and they all have been in various stages of disrepair.
NPS has sub-leased the properties to the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, which has worked with private individuals or families by leasing the homes to the families, who are rehabilitating them.
Today, a visit to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore gives visitors an opportunity to see the Wieboldt-Rostone House, the House of Tomorrow, the Florida Tropical House, the Cypress Log Cabin, and the Armco-Ferro House. For the casual visitor, the simplest thing is to park and view the houses from the road – informational placards are set up for each of them, with plenty of interesting info.
For those interested in seeing inside, the National Park Service offers tours by reservation only one day each in October. As you can guess, since they are first-come, first-served, tickets are not easy to come by, but it’s worth taking a chance when tickets become available in early September.
At less than two hours from Chicago, the houses are well-worth a visit, especially when combined with some nearby hiking trails and a visit to the Lake Michigan beaches. Camping is available through the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as well as the Indiana Dunes State Park. For more info, visit NPS.gov.