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Notes from the Northwest Indiana Traveler        <Back to Traveler Main Page
by Erin  Read my disclaimer...

1933 World's Fair Homes at Beverly Shores, Indiana

On a terrific June day, I took a scenic drive along Lake Shore Drive for the views of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.  This day brought me to Beverly Shores to view the World's Fair Homes of 1933.

Below are photos of the much-aging and forgotten (but ever impressive) homes.  Descriptions (in italics) come from the Duneland Chamber of Commerce.   To see these historic homes, take Route 12 to Broadway in Beverly Shores (right by the South Shore Train Station) and go north until you reach Lake Shore Drive (also called Lake Front Drive).  Then turn left.  

As a first stop, the Wieboldt-Rostone House provides a fantastic scene.  One can't help but wish he or she could own this home right on the lakeshore of Lake Michigan.  This forward thinking home of 1933 would surely be a dream to live in.  But like the rest of the homes listed here, this structure qualifies as a textbook fixer-upper.  What a shame these homes have gone to ruin or near ruin.  Still, it's also a blessing that they haven't all been destroyed.  There were originally around fifteen World's Fair Homes of 1933; only 6 still stand.  Of the remaining six, only two not abandoned: the Old North Church and the Armco-Ferro House (no photos).

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The Wieboldt-Rostone House

The Wieboldt-Rostone House....was designed by architect Walter Scholer of Lafayette, Indiana and was built to demonstrate that a home could be elegant and durable as well as affordable.  Mr. Scholer gave the house a Mediterranean atmosphere by constructing it with Rostone, a new, inexpensive, synthetic stone composed of limestone and shale.  The house is made of a prefabricated steel frame and covered with preformed plates of Rostone, all of which could be easily assembled on site.  Today, Rostone is considered to be the stone equivalent to plywood.  It is not very durable and has since eroded off much of the house.  The only remaining Rostone to be found is at the edging of the Art-Deco inspired doorway; the rest has peen replaced with permastone.

Also on the lake side of Lake Shore Drive, the Florida Tropical House may seem a bit out of place for a Lake Michigan shoreline, but that's what makes it so spectacular.  Like all the homes listed on this page, The Florida Tropical House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  Looking at this unique-to-setting home, we can be grateful that it has been preserved.  In fact, this home (and the other World's Fair Homes in Beverly Shores) was transported to the dunes on a barge after the fair by Robert Bartlett, a local real estate developer.  His intention was to attract buyers to Beverly Shores, his new resort community.

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The Florida Tropical House

The Florida Tropical House, designed by Miami, Florida architect, Robert Law Weed, is located on the lake side, immediately east of the Rostone House.  Once a bright pink color, this spacious two-story house was designed to conform to Florida's sub-tropical weather by blending outdoor and indoor environments.  [Its] rooms were built with high ceilings to allow the maximum amount of outdoor air to pass through the house, while the roof deck gave residents the opportunity to enjoy the evening breezes so common to Florida.  An interior shiny reflective surface enhanced the spaciousness while at the same time minimized household cleaning chores.  The original flat roof, once covered with ceramic tiles[,] had to be replaced and built up with roofing to make the structure capable of withstanding the harsh mid-western winters.

Crossing the narrow road (Look both ways on Lake Shore Drive!), you'll come closer to three more fair homes.  Again, you'll find structures that will impress you but at the same time leave you with an awareness that these homes are in need of some serious repair.  

It seems the 1933 viewers of the World's Fair Homes were offered some impressive homes to view, and tremendous variety in styles.  This cabin/cottage, The Cypress Log Cabin, is rustic but also intricate and impressive.  It displays some terrific and attractive details such as nature-inspired gable ends, authentic wood shingle roof, and stone fireplace.  

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The Cypress Log Cabin

...obscured from view by vegetation is the Cypress Log Cabin.  Built by the Southern Cypress Manufacturers, this cabin, along with its guest house, was constructed to demonstrate the durability and versatility of cypress by displaying various finished and construction styles that could be applied to this natural product.  Designed by architect Murray D. Heatherington, it was a traditional style unlike other structures displayed at the Fair.  With a mountain lodge atmosphere, the fences, benches, arbors, and bridges were all made of cypress and decorated with cypress knees carved to suggest animal heads, reptiles, and fantasy creatures.  Its large living room had a limestone fireplace and was furnished with various items carved out of cypress logs.  Twelve different types of Cypress were used both inside and outside the cabin.

To me the most memorable house on the tour is the House of Tomorrow.  First, who can resist that title?!  But even more impressive is the exterior design of the house.  (I'd love to see the inside.)  This home had to have left an impression on viewers at the fair back in 1933.  This home, as well as the other homes listed, were created to demonstrate the most modern materials and technology, which makes sense since theme of that World's Fair was "A Century of Progress."  Some homes even impressed viewers with dishwashers, central air, and other such innovative furnishings.

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The House of Tomorrow

The House of Tomorrow...was the creation of Chicago architects George and William Keck.  This three-story, 12-sided structure of steel contained two large garages, one for a car and one for the airplane that the World's Fair optimists assumed every family would soon have.  Originally this wedding cake style home had large panels of glass for walls.  These have since been replaced by smaller windows which can be opened.  The House of Tomorrow had central air conditioning, electric garage door openers, lights that could be adjusted to dim, and a dishwasher: all very modern technologies for 1933.

When taking this auto or walking tour, please be watchful of oncoming cars on this narrow road.  Also, please observe posted trespassing notices.  
If you have questions or comments about these homes, or know of any progress in their restoration, please feel free to contact .

Article written June 18, 2001

"The World's Fair Homes, an Auto or Walking Tour."  Duneland Chamber of Commerce.