Sam and Ruth Van Sickle Ford House | The Most Beautiful Places in Chicago with Geoffrey Baer
Sam and Ruth Van Sickle Ford House
It has the circular geometry, which is very calming, and the stimulation of the textures and the colors. So it’s beauty that’s active, and beauty that’s quiet.— Sid Robinson, owner of the Sam and Ruth Van Sickle Ford House
Geoffrey Baer learns about the history of the Ford House from its current owner.
Aurora, Illinois is home to a curious-looking residence known as the Sam and Ruth Van Sickle Ford House, built between 1949 and 1950. Architect Bruce Goff designed the home, which has one central dome-like structure, flanked by two additional, smaller domes. According to the Art Institute of Chicago, Goff “designed buildings for the Navy during World War II and there became acquainted with the versatile Quonset hut, a demountable steel structure with a distinctive, half-tube shape.” That structure inspired the Ford House, which has exposed Quonset hut ribs on one side of its exterior. The current owner, Sid Robinson, told Geoffrey Baer that the design of the home is not unlike a yurt or a teepee, wherein a round home is centered around a fireplace. “This house is based on an ancient idea of habitation, but it’s a very contemporary house.” Goff, who never had any formal training as an architect but was a respected one nonetheless, was known for using unconventional materials, and he incorporated those into the Ford House, including rope and discarded chunks of glass. The skylight in the bathroom is made from the dome from a World War II bomber, and one wall is made of coal and cullet glass. Ruth Van Sickle Ford commissioned Goff for her home in order to make an artistic statement – and to get a little attention for the Chicago Academy of Fine Art, for which she served as president and director. Her own paintings once hung on the coal and glass wall.