A Short History...
Designed in 1938 as two separate structures by its first owner, the architect Andrew Rebori, this Gold Coast landmark is commonly known as the Florsheim Mansion after Lillian Florsheim, the shoe heiress and sculptor who bought the place from Rebori in 1946.
Ten years later, Florsheim commissioned her son-in-law, the architect Bertrand Goldberg (who designed the revolutionary Marina City – the corncob-like mixed residential, commercial, nautical towers across from the Loop on the Chicago River to join the two buildings at their second floors.
In an architectural master-stoke, Goldberg created the famed "Galley Kitchen to link the Main House with the Coach House. The Galley Kitchen is black-laminate, fiberglass, and stainless-steel, meant to mimic the sleek lines of the era's streamlined railroad cars. The Coach House was used at Ms. Florsheim's design studio and as the site of some of Chicago's most lavish and flamboyant parties, replete with the leading artists, writers and musicians of the day.
In 1998, the Goldberg family sold the house to Robert Fitzpatrick, chosen that year to lead the Museum of Contemporary Art. Fitzpatrick recalls he had heard that a potential buyer wanted to gut the house's kitchen, so he hastily bought the place to prevent its desecration. Wanting to downsize, Fitzpatrick and his wife, Sylvie, sold the house in May 2006 to the current owner.
Born in 1938, by Andrew Rebori...Chicago architect Andrew Rebori designed this striking modern-art style building in 1938. Rounded glass blocks and horizontal lines define the exterior. Rebori built two houses on the lot and left an open courtyard to increase the sense of light and space.
Commissioned by his mother-in-law, artist Lillian Florsheim, this project was a connection between a pair of small townhouses built on a narrow lot designed by architect Andrew Rebori in 1938. With his bridge kitchen, Goldberg united the two houses built around a small courtyard. The kitchen measured only 35' by 8.5' and was inspired by Goldberg's research into railway galley kitchens. It was suspended from two I beams, spanning the courtyard. Metal rods (in tension) held up the floor and a fiberglass screen wall enclosed the structure.
The novel kitchen was featured in number of publications. a Chicago Tribune Magazine article literally described it in glowing terms, "with its luminous plastic wall, the second floor kitchen, seen from the courtyard at night resembles a giant ribbed Chinese lantern." Home and Garden wrote: "One of the most adventurous kitchen designs ever shown in H&G is no research project but the practical answer to a specific building problem. Bertrand Goldberg Associates undertook the challenging task of designing a kitchen that could serve second-floor living and dining areas in two houses separated by a courtyard: the courtyard was to be left exactly the way it was. Their answer was a ‘bridge kitchen,' 35' long and 8½ feet wide, suspended by steel beams above the yard. A curved wall of rigid opaque plastic panels takes the place of windows, adds a pleasing architectural form. Inside, equipment is finished in black, white, or stainless steel lines the walls. The counters of black metal match the cabinets whose contents are identified on plastic handles. Between countertops and wall cabinets are compartments for bulky appliances (they call them ‘garages') with push-up metal doors. The dramatic color scheme has a purpose. The highly reflective qualities of the metal, the black vinyl floor and stainless steel ceiling, make the narrow kitchen look larger."