Stunning ‘Ferris Bueller’ Glass House Gets New Life With Major Restoration – Downtown – Chicago


Cameron’s house
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HIGHLAND PARK – The famous glass and steel house that served as the setting for Cameron Frye’s home in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is undergoing a historic makeover – and it’s not because a bright red Ferrari is is crushed through one of its windows.

The Highland Park house and pavilion was featured as Cameron’s hypochondriac house – and his father’s car showroom – in the classic 1986 John Hughes film, though its story goes well. beyond the well-known film.

In fact, the North Shore structure had already been famous for 30 years in the architectural world before Ferris and Cameron included it on their hangout list and when the 250 GT California Spyder both “borrowed” to Cameron’s father broke the ground. windows up to the ceiling.

The house was built in 1953 and designed by A. James Speyer, a student of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, whose linear and heavy steel buildings like the Kluczynski Federal Building in the city center, the IBM building and much of the Illinois Institute for Technology campus would inspire new generations of design and architecture.

Speyer’s mid-century modern house which sits surrounded by trees in a ravine was considered a model for steel house craftsmanship.

“There’s this cultural connection that people make at home because of the film, but for us it’s kind of a marginal thing,” said Jim Baranski, director of Baranski, Hammer, Moretta & Sheehy Architects & Planners, a Chicago / Galena- based company overseeing the renovations.

“It is a very valuable and important piece of mid-century architecture.”

After the house was built, Speyer was curator of the Art Institute of Chicago for the rest of his career, but Speyer was also the architect’s mentor. In 1974, Speyer’s protege David Haid created a pavilion on the grounds of the house.

Located over a ravine about 30 feet below, the addition served as a garage for owner Ben Rose’s personal car collection – which was also the case in Hughes’ film.

(Story continues below)The infamous car scene from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” which took place in the pavilion. [YouTube]The actual interior of the pavilion. Currently it is used for storage. [Provided/Baranski, Hammer, Moretta & Sheehy Architects & Planners]The pavilion overlooking a ravine below. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

When Rose passed away in 2009, the future of the house suddenly became uncertain.

It hit the market that year at $ 2.3 million, and its price slowly declined until 2011, when its listing fell to $ 1.65 million.

Faced with the threat of demolition, the house eventually found itself on the Landmark Illinois preservation group’s list of endangered buildings.

Despite its iconic status, the few inquiries have come from buyers seeking to demolish the residence, Baranski said.

Despite its rich history, there was no doubt that the house was in physical despair and lacked modern living standards.

For example, the temperature inside the house couldn’t exceed 52 degrees, Baranski said. While the floor-to-ceiling glass afforded phenomenal views, the single-pane windows did little to keep the house always warm or cold.

Likewise, its steel beams served as a “thermal bridge” between external and internal temperatures, said Baranski – a problem also encountered on the house’s raised floors.

At one point, the original Rose family installed a ducted cooling system, but it was added to the exposed belly of the house and ultimately didn’t do much to address the temperature problem.

The fact that the property contains two separate plots has also been listed as a challenge for sale over the years.

Originally designed as an automotive showroom, the pavilion also houses a kitchenette and bathroom.

New owners should not only figure out what to do with the two entities, but also deal with the continuous stream of curious fans stalking the house.

Still, it deserved to be saved, Baranski said.

“I live in Galena.… Basically, to demolish a building here, you have to get permission from God,” he said. “It just doesn’t happen.”

(Story continues below)The original exterior of the house. [Provided/Baranski, Hammer, Moretta & Sheehy Architects & Planners]A new underground living space and a two-car garage make up the bulk of its renovation. [Provided/Baranski, Hammer, Moretta & Sheehy Architects & Planners]Raised houses, single-pane windows, and steel bars make the house difficult to heat or cool properly. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

The property reappeared on the market in 2013 for $ 1.5 million, and in 2014 a couple stepped in to save it. They bought the house for a little over a million dollars.

Baranski said the new owners understood and embraced the importance of the property in both pop culture and architecture.

While waiting to move in, the house is a bustling construction site, with teams helping not only to make the space livable for its new family, but also to rekindle the vision of its creators. The architectural firm declined to reveal how much the renovation will cost.

While most of the work is done indoors or under the house, Baranski’s firm replaces all windows with thermal glass, insulates the top and bottom of the house, and adds a hot water radiator system to the house. ground.

Baranski’s team will also restore the steel beams of the structure to their original brick red color, a welcome change from the charcoal-colored paint added some time before the pavilion was built.

The most important part of the renovation is the construction of an underground living space and a garage.

At one point in the 1980s the little one contained a separate garage, but it was later removed.

Currently, workers are digging a 15-foot trench under the house that will become a two-car garage, children’s play area, storage space and a laundry room. However, its submerged setup will keep it almost completely hidden.

The house’s pavilion, now used for storage, will remain and likely be used as a guesthouse or additional space, the builders said.

It was a demanding renovation, but an opportunity Baranski said he and the owners were happy to seize.

“This house was about to be demolished, and that’s kind of a problem on the North Shore and in the northwest suburbs in general: where people look at historic homes and say, ‘OK, it’s not worth it, we’re going to tear it down and build something new, ”Baranski said. “We’re trying to make a point that says, ‘Look, these houses can be saved.’ “

“If you think about it enough and are creative enough, you can make these homes livable for the next hundred years.”

Photos by DNAinfo / Linze Rice or provided by Baranski, Hammer, Moretta & Sheehy Architects & Planners. See more in our slideshow above.


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