1933-34 Chicago World's Fair: A Century of Progress Home Planning Group


You will enter A Century of Progress for the first time perhaps like an explorer—curious and eager—penetrating an amazingly rumored domain in search of treasure. It well might be, whether by day or by night you come, that the veritable bombardment of color and light that greets you may create the illusion of stepping within a giant jewel, its myriad facets flashing countless rays of beauty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      –Your Book of the Fair, 1933


The Home and Industrial Arts Group included several buildings and homes and was situated north of 31st Street overlooking Lake Michigan.  Originally, eleven homes and six exhibit halls were erected for the 1933 season to showcase advances in modern building materials, architecture, and interior designs. Most were small modern homes that maximized sunlight and expanded living space to terraces and rooftops. Prior to the start of the 1934 season, three more homes were added and the original homes were redecorated to highlight new furnishings and accents. All but two of the homes sported flat roofs and radically contemporary designs. 


The homes also enjoyed an array of technological innovations such as air conditioning, central heat, and time-saving kitchen appliances. One futuristic house design even anticipated the need for a special port to park the family airplane. For most of the homes, pre-fab designs and new building materials were provided to showcase affordable home options to families with limited means. Architects, building companies, manufacturers, and designers took part in sponsoring various aspects of the homes to promote their products and innovations in concert with the fair’s “Century of Progress” theme. 




26 – General Houses Inc. Houses

27 – Masonite House

28 – Wieboldt-Rostone House*

29 – Lumber Industries House

30 - Common Brick Manufacturers House

32 – Florida Tropical Home*

33 - Century Homes “House of Tomorrow”*

35 – Southern Cypress Log Cabin*

39 – Good Housekeeping Stran-Steel House & Stran-Steel Garden Home

40 – Armco-Ferro Mayflower Enamel House*

?? – Design for Living Home

*These homes are still standing at Indiana Dunes, Beverly Shores, IN


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26 - General Houses, Inc. House and Steel House

Architect: Howard T. Fisher, Chicago

Built by: General Houses Inc.

Interiors by: Kroehler Furniture Company

Cost: $4,500
General Houses, Inc. erected two all-steel frameless five-room homes within the Home Planning Group to demonstrate how panels could be easily bolted onto a chassis to construct a shell for installing pre-fab roof panels, windows, and doors. In the 1933 Home and Industrial Arts Group Guide, the General Houses home could boast that the pressed-steel panels used in its construction provided insulation equal to 24 inches of brick (Guide, 1933). Additionally, samples of panels and joints gave fair goers an idea of how versatile this new pre-fab design could be for the modern family.  The General Houses, Inc. House was built in preparation for the 1933 season and later, the Steel House was added in 1934 to showcase an additional floor plan and interiors (Ali, 1994).


27 - Masonite House

Architect: Frazier and Raftery, Chicago

Built by: Masonite Corporation

Interiors by: Marjorie Thorsh, Chicago

Cost: $7,500
Interior and exterior Masonite Presdwood consisted of wood panels and was hailed as a “new wood product” invented by W. H. Mason, a chemist with Thomas A. Edison (Ali, 1994). Described as a “modern bungalow,” Empire-Colonial furnishings were selected for one room while ultra-modern furnishings were selected for another so visitors could see that their own items could conceivably be used in this cutting-edge design.  Central air and other labor-saving appliances were provided along with covered and open roof deck living spaces that even included a children’s play yard.