When the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District began condemnation proceedings on their house in the late 1980s, Alexander and Martyl Langsdorf sprang into action.  Through a hard fought battle, they not only won life tenancy of the house, but National Register status in 1987 as well, two years before the house was, indeed, acquired for $45,000 by the Reclamation District.   It was later sold to the village of Schaumburg in 1999 and continues its existence today as an architectural gem.

The story of the house began in 1937 when Paul Schweikher, an up and coming architect, acquired property on Meacham Road from L.D. Kern.  Schweikher had redesigned a barn into a house for Mr. Kern and was given seven acres as payment.  Using Japanese and Prairie elements, Schweikher designed a house and studio for himself in rural Schaumburg Township, using it as a base for the Schweikher & Elting firm.  A contemporary of Mies van der Rohe, Schweikher lived and worked there from 1938  to 1953 when he moved to Connecticut to head Yale University’s architecture school.

The house was purchased by Alexander Langsdorf Jr. and his wife Martyl in 1953.  Alexander worked with Enrico Fermi at Argonne National Laboratory on the Manhattan Project while Martyl acclaimed herself as an internationally known landscape artist and creator of the design for the Doomsday Clock.  Alexander Langsdorf died in 1996 and Martyl continued her dedication to the house and its grounds until her death in 2013, maintaining a zeal and passion for the unique structure that it is.

For more photos and information about the Schweikher/Langsdorf House, please visit the Local History Digital Archive.  Browse through the Photos by going to Places, followed by Residences : Schaumburg and, finally, Paul Schweikher House and Studio.  Be sure and check out the Full Record for a more comprehensive writeup on the house.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

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