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Schaumburg, Illinois -- 1937-38, 1947
In 1937, the long sea voyage from Tokyo to San Francisco gave Paul Schweikher plenty of time to reflect on his first trip to Japan and to remember the
modern landmarks he had earlier seen in Europe on a traveling scholarship from Yale. Those experiences shaped his 4,800- square-foot house-studio,
which he sketched on the ship and soon built in open country 25 miles northwest of Chicago.
He had worked for two well-established architects, David Adler and George Frederick Keck, and had recently formed his own partnership. His fee for
remodeling a farm that had formerly concealed one of AI Capone's stills was a seven-acre plot in Roselle, a community founded by German farmers in
1848. Later renamed Schaumburg, it has recently been swallowed up by suburbia, but the house survives in its original condition.
Schweikher's favorite material was wood, and this flatroofed post-and-beam house is built, inside and out, of California redwood in combination with
salmon-colored common brick. Its simplicity is enriched by rough-textured natural materials and inventive details. The Japanese influence is evident in
the low ceilings; the integration of rooms, covered porches, and enclosed patios; and the vertical wood screens. There is even a wooden soaking tub,
with English-language instructions filched from a Japanese ryokan that conclude with the capitalized warning "For heaven's sake, do not take the
stopper off the tub bottom!"
As in Japan, there is a processional route. It starts at the carport, moving towards the entry along a raised, covered brick walkway. The walkway is
flanked by the blank batten walls of the house and, at an angle, the studio, which together define a grassy courtyard. A low-ceilinged lobby leads into
the soaring living room with its brick floor, exposed joists, and huge hearth topped by a wall of end-laid bricks. It is lit from a corner slit and from sliding
glass windows opening onto a Zen courtyard of raked gravel, with a maple tree that turns scarlet in fall. An all-wood kitchen with open shelves on two
sides is linked by a pass-through to a dining nook with a wall bench.
To the right of the lobby is a glass-fronted gallery looking out on the courtyard. The gallery is backed by a wall of closets and a clerestory with
wooden flaps to provide cross ventilation. Beyond are the master suite and two additions of 1947: a former child's bedroom with a tiled floor and shoji
screen, and a studio with another end-laid brick hearth surround. In 1960, the studio was converted into the children's room, with twin beds
cantilevered off a wall bench.
The architect built this residence for himself, but it worked equally well for the couple to whom he sold it in 1953 when he was named chairman of the
Yale School of Architecture. Alexander Langsdorf Jr. had come to Chicago to work with nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi on the Manhattan project. He was
survived by his wife, Martyl, a celebrated artist who added Eliel Saarinen furniture that she bought a half century ago. She is deeply attached to the
house and has turned the architect's office into a studio where she creates paintings that are shown around the world.
I wish I had retained an early issue of Fine Homebuilding magazine containing an illustrated article on Schweikher's retirement home in Arizona.
Material online mentions two Arizona homes, in Roselle and in Sedona; I think it is the Sedona residence which appeared in the magazine.
The house has a tall gable roof of corrugated sheet metal, with (as I recall) much glazing beneath the generous roof overhangs, and an informal loft-
style interior arrangement.
I have never seen the other Arizona home. Here is the Upton residence of Schweikher and Elting, 1950, Scottsdale. I am surprised not to find Wright
mentioned in the literature, as an influence on Paul Schweikher . . .
See "Modernism Rediscovered," Serraino and Shulman, pp 72-75. House has been demolished.
The loss of the Upton House is a real tragedy, a victim of uncontrolled urban sprawl.
And this house is right here in Schaumburg. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a museum with the original decor from the 2nd owner. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s outstanding. I want to return when the cherry blossoms open...outside in wrote:what an incredibly talented architect. Between his house and the project in Arizona he rates as one of the best!
Thank you, SDR, for posting my pics!
Do you know what the kitchen chairs are ? Just curious.
There are several built-ins with (very wide) sliding doors. Those in a bathroom appear to be suspended rather than sliding on their bottoms, judging by their abbreviated locating strips.
It's wonderful to find this house in such good original condition. Did you see the drafting room ?