he Farnsworth House is owned and operated as a house museum by the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP). The National Trust and Landmarks Illinois, a statewide advocacy group – with financial support from hundreds of contributors including the Friends of the Farnsworth House – were able to purchase the house for $7.5 million at an auction in New York City on December 12, 2003. The National Trust – Landmarks Illinois partnership was able to outbid other prospective buyers at the auction, thanks to an urgent fundraising campaign that was quickly mounted after news of the sale at auction was announced fall 2003.


Both organizations feared that since the Farnsworth House was not protected by landmark designation, a prospective buyer could dismantle the house and move it to another state. David Bahlman, president of Landmarks Illinois, and Richard Moe, president of NTHP, said in a joint statement, “The Farnsworth House is one of the most significant residences built in the United States in the 20th Century. It would be an architectural disaster of the first order if it were moved from its original location. It’s not hard to envision someone wanting to take this masterpiece from its countryside setting to a theme park or a private sculpture garden.”


(photo left to right)  Joe Antunovich ( Landmarks Illinois), David Bahlman (Landmarks Illinois), Richard Moe (National Trust for Historic Preservation President) and Dirk Lohan, Lohan Anderson Architects, grandson of Mies van der Rohe at the Farnsworth House May 15, 2004 grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony. Photo Credit: Joan Hackett Photography.





“To prevent that from happening, it is our goal to purchase it on behalf of the nation and the people of Illinois to ensure its permanent and perpetual protection. A house of this significance deserves to be protected forever and made available to the public.” Bahlman and Moe added.


The two preservation leaders explained that because of the Farnsworth House's small size, it could be easily disassembled and moved. They added that there are no legal protections that would prevent that from happening. “Some people regard the house as a work of art and, as such, one that can be moved about,” Bahlman and Moe said in their joint statement. “But it is first and foremost an iconic work of architecture and, therefore, maintaining its original setting and context is essential to maintaining its integrity.”


Today, the Farnsworth House is part of the National Trust’s amazing collection of 29 Historic Sites, either with ownership or co-stewardship arrangements, ranging from quiet oak-shaded bayous in Louisiana to crowded city streets in New York, from a simple California adobe to a massive castle overlooking the Hudson River, from Frank Lloyd Wright's Pope-Leighey House of 1940 to James Madison's Montpelier, built almost two centuries earlier.



The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a private, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to protecting the irreplaceable.

The Chicago-based Friends of the Farnsworth House are individuals who are dedicated to saving the international modernist masterpiece.








Farnsworth House

14520 River Road

Plano, IL 60545

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