SAH News

Farnsworth House Damaged in Recent Floods

by User Not Found | Jun 29, 2012
The Septembe 15, 2008 issue of the Chicago Tribune reports that Mies van der Rohe's modernist icon, the Edith Farnsworth House, suffered damage as a result of weekend floods in the Midwest.
The floodwaters, which were fallout from recent hurricanes, rose seven feet around Farnsworth, with two feet of water seeping inside the house. The Society of Architectural Historians' Charnley-Persky House was not damaged by the excessive rainfall. 

Flooded Fox River bounds into Plano's historic Farnsworth House 
By Vikki Ortiz | Chicago Tribune reporter September 15, 2008. 

While homeowners along the Fox River fretted over damage to their homes, architectural and historical experts worried about the fate of the Farnsworth House, a historic site in Plano considered an icon in modern architecture. As of midday Sunday, floodwaters rose above the 5-foot risers on which the steel and glass home sits, leaving its interior covered in another 2 feet of water, said Whitney French, historic site director. "It's gut-wrenching," French said. "You have to come to terms with the fact that Mother Nature will always win in a power struggle." Employees at the Farnsworth House used boats to reach the home Saturday and lift the designer furniture away from the water. Some pieces, including a custom-designed wardrobe bound to the floor, could not be saved. Officials could not yet estimate the cost of the damage. Completed in 1951, the house was built by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as a country retreat for a Chicago doctor, Edith Farnsworth, and is a clear example of his philosophy that "less is more." The architect suspended its floor slab to allow floodwaters to run beneath the house. Still, waters have risen above the raised level six times in 60 years, French said. In 1996, the Fox River smashed through one of the house's huge plate-glass windows. Surging floodwaters attacked the inside of the one-room, rectangular house, submerging it in 51/2 feet of water and causing $500,000 in damage.