Tour David Adler's French Masterpiece in Chicago

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May 14, 2015
By: Francesca Robin

Photo By: Prudential Rubloff

Photo By: John Simmons Eckert

Photo By: John Simmons Eckert

Photo By: John Simmons Eckert

Photo By: Prudential Rubloff


Front view of the Carolyn Morse Ely estate: Adler was one of the most influential men and architects of his generation whose work has become as prized as other name-brand titans in the Chicago pantheon. He's known for his use of proportion and scale, as in this sweeping entrance.


This foyer doubles as a formal receiving room and showcases Adler’s star-patterned floor -- a signature of his homes. The current owners have been loving ambassadors and many of the original details, including sconces and chandeliers, are preserved.

Family Room

"Lanterne" means a building you can see through, exemplified by this corner family room with floor-to-ceiling windows in this winter scene. In the '20s, a variety of these spaces were designated for specific activities and labeled "card room," or "flower arranging room." It's one of the reasons for so much variation in size.


Originally designed for the house staff, this updated kitchen still retains Adler's space aesthetic. One of the unusual design aspects of this home was creating the impression of corridors, achieved here with a deep doorway entrance (top right).


Hard to imagine from the imposing exterior that this intimate library is inside. Adler's formal training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts instilled historical styles (the Ecole taught many) as a foundation. While the idea of the European great house was snubbed during the '20s and '30s, Adler embraced it.

Summer Garden

Most of Adler's homes are designed with access to patios, porches, terraces and views from the common rooms. His outdoor spaces are frequently accented with urns, statues, and odd bits of garden furniture, as in this lovely summer garden.

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