The famous glass and steel home that served as the set for Cameron Frye's house in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" is undergoing a historic renovation — and it's not because a bright red Ferrari crashed through one of its windows.
The Highland Park home and pavilion were featured as hypochondriac Cameron's house — and his father's car showroom — in the classic 1986 John Hughes film, though its back story stretches far beyond the well-known movie.
In fact, the North Shore structure already had been famous for 30 years in the architecture world before Ferris and Cameron included it on their list of hooky hangouts and when the 250 GT California Spyder the two "borrowed" from Cameron's dad smashed through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
The home was built in 1953 and designed by A. James Speyer, a student of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, whose linear, steel-heavy buildings like Downtown's Kluczynski Federal Building, IBM building and much of the Illinois Institute for Technology's campus would inspire new generations of design and architecture.
Speyer's midcentury modern house that sits surrounded by trees in a ravine was held up as a model for steel home craftsmanship.
"There's that cultural connection people make back to the house because of the movie, but for us, that's sort of a fringe thing," said Jim Baranski, principal at Baranski, Hammer, Moretta & Sheehy Architects & Planners, a Chicago/Galena-based firm overseeing the renovations.
"It's a very valuable, important piece of midcentury architecture."
After the house was built, Speyer went on to serve as a curator for the Art Institute of Chicago for the rest of his career, but Speyer mentored architects, too. In 1974, Speyer's protégé David Haid created a pavilion on the grounds of the home.
Set over a ravine about 30 feet below, the addition acted as a garage for homeowner Ben Rose's personal auto collection — which was also the case in Hughes' movie. MORE