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Mid Century Modern Architecture in the Midwest

Updated on November 22, 2010

There continues to be an appreciation for mid century modern architecture in America, but for years the majority of enthusiasts were based on the East and West Coasts. California is home to many famous planned communities and still retains hundreds of examples of prime mid century modern houses. Florida and the northern New England coast boast many stone and glass structures that embody the spirit of this movement as well. It is only in the past few decades that there has been an appreciation and, indeed, a celebration of mid century modern architecture in the Midwest. The diverse types of homes built in America's heartland mimic some of the most famous styles of the much-loved coastal homes, but there are also unique designers and architects that proudly built now-classic homes in the Midwest.

Richard Isenhour designed home in Lexington KY
Richard Isenhour designed home in Lexington KY | Source

Midwestern Modernity

Fans of classic design are quick to point out the Rummers of Portland, Oregon, or the many Eichler homes built in California. Both are prime examples of mid century modern design and remain benchmarks for comparison. The Midwest meanwhile accumulated its own versions of modernity and also embraced prefabricated structures that are now considered classics. Finding these homes may take a little more research and effort as many are not well documented.

Scouting Mid-Century Modern in the Midwest

Students of design need only look around the Midwestern States for dozens of examples of classic structures. The post World War II steel and enamel Lustron homes can be found scattered throughout Ohio, Illinois and Kentucky. There are Futuros in Kentucky and Ohio. Just north of Columbus is the small development of Rush Creek with its Usonian style of homes borrowed from Frank Lloyd Wright. There is an actual Wright home in Frankfort, Kentucky. The Farnsworth Home by Mies van der Rohe is an iconic home in Plano, Illinois. Richard Isenhour was a Lexington, Kentucky, based architect with many fine mid century modern homes to his credit. The list goes on. Each state has its hidden gems just waiting to be discovered by the curious traveler.

The best sources to discover these wonderful homes are through various online forums with other like minded souls or by visiting the handful of websites dedicated to preserving the spirit of midcentury modern in the Midwest. Sites like provide a look at the wide variety of architecture found in the part of the country not exactly known for good design. It is out there and ready to be re-discovered by a new generation.


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