Farnsworth House renamed the Edith Farnsworth House


Christa Carr


Edith Farnsworth House


Mies, Chicago, Edith Farnsworth
Image details

In celebration of its 70th anniversary, Farnsworth House will be renamed the Edith Farnsworth House. This official rededication asserts the formative role of Dr. Edith Farnsworth (1903-1977) in the creation of the iconic structure, confirming her partnership in the home’s design and recognizing her many accomplishments as a research physician, poet, translator, classical violinist, and patron of art and design.

For decades, the Edith Farnsworth House, a symbol of architectural innovation, has been characterized as the achievement of one person: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886–1969). Today, few admirers realize that the client and benefactor, Edith Farnsworth, was herself a visionary woman and a passionate supporter of the arts. Ahead of her time in the post-World War II era, Edith Farnsworth lived an independent life of cultural and intellectual exploration and discovery. For decades, her story, as well as her pivotal role in the creation of this landmark, has not received the prominence it deserves. 

This rededication serves to correct the narrative regarding the relationship between Edith Farnsworth and Mies van der Rohe and her role in the building’s creation. Edith Farnsworth’s abiding interest in artistic innovation introduced her to Mies’s talent and led her to commission his first residential project constructed on American soil. Thanks to her foresight, the architect was inspired to create a contemporary weekend home that was in concert with the natural environment of the Illinois countryside. Widely regarded as an architectural marvel, the Edith Farnsworth House helped establish Mies’s prominence in America. 

"We hope this seemingly simple act of inserting her first name has the larger effect of inserting her into the ongoing history of Modern architecture,” said Scott Mehaffey, Executive Director of the Edith Farnsworth House. “Without Edith Farnsworth, Mies van der Rohe’s American career might have remained stalled and his stature usurped by his contemporaries. Edith was fully aware that she was both a client and a patron, and she played an active role in the design of her house, which has become a celebrated milestone in the evolution of Modernism.”

“From the moment of its completion, Edith Farnsworth’s home was publicly and primarily associated with its architect, Mies van der Rohe,” added Christina Morris, who leads the National Trust’s campaign for Where Women Made History. “Rededicating the site enshrines her role in the creative process and ensures that the original patron and owner of this Modern icon – an independent woman, medical professional, and artistic spirit – will be squarely at the center of the story, where she belongs.”

A rededication ceremony will be livestreamed on the Edith Farnsworth House's Facebook and Instagram on Wednesday, November 17, beginning at 2:00 pm CST, which is also Dr. Farnsworth’s birthday.

The exhibition “Edith Farnsworth Reconsidered” will continue through December 2021 with a Virtual Reality tour and a number of programs in the on-site galleries, including an exhibition that focuses on Farnsworth's life, career and hobbies. The centerpiece of the project, “Edith Farnsworth’s Country House,” a temporary refurnishing of the home to reflect its 1955 appearance as Edith’s home, will run through December 19th.  

The Edith Farnsworth House is a member of the Explore Modern Partnership. Docomomo US members receive a $5 discount when registering for a guided tour at the Farnsworth House. Visit the featured site page below for details in the "How to Visit" section.