Farnsworth House Floods
By Margaret Foster | Online Only | Sept. 15, 2008
It was a devastating weekend for not only the Gulf Coast but the Midwest. So far Hurricane Ike has killed 31 people and caused more flooding in the Midwest, which suffered record floods this summer.
In the architectural community, all eyes are on Plano, Ill., where floodwaters buried Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House under two feet of water yesterday.
For the sixth time in 60 years, the Fox River inundated the modern masterpiece, built on five-foot-tall risers. Read about the last flood
"It's an absolutely devastating scene," said James Peters, president and CEO of Landmarks Illinois, which manages and operates the house for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in a statement today. "At this point, we are fairly confident the 2008 tour season, which was scheduled to extend through November, is over." Now the nonprofit will have to raise money to repair the steel-and-glass Farnsworth House.
On Saturday, Landmarks Illinois volunteers paddled boats to the house to helped raise the furniture out of harm's way. The Fox River has also flooded three nearby bridges and many houses.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation bought the 1951 house at auction for $7.5 million in 2003.
"Weather-based damage and destruction of older and historic sites is a national issue, and in the case of the flooding of Farnsworth House, which we saved with our partner, Landmarks Illinois, it is also a personal one," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in a statement today. "Our principal concern is for the safety and welfare of members of the public directly impacted by the storms."
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