DAVID ADLER: Great House Architect

NOLA Code:
ADLR 0100 H1
Number of Episodes/Length:
4 / 30
Rights End:
Exemplar Arts LLC
Year Produced:
Grand houses from a bygone era.

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#101 Youth
Tour “Castle Hill” the David Adler designed, 56,000 square foot, nationally landmarked, summer home along the Atlantic in Ipswich, MA with its curator Susan Hill Dolan. Built from 1925-1928 on an existing foundation, for Mr. and Mrs. Richard Teller Crane Jr. of the industrial empire, Crane Plumbing Company, Adler was inspired by 17th century Belton House and Ham House in England. He used architectural salvage from the Earls of Essex library created by the “Kings’ Carver”, Grinling Gibbons, along with woodwork from a 1732 London townhome. David Adler was one of the greatest residential architects of the first half of the 20th century, yet is often ignored by the critics, perhaps as he was a quiet man who shunned publicity and the private nature of his affluent clients. Several of Adler’s original architecture plans are included.

#102 Training
A rare inside look at “Port o’Call” the David Adler designed, early American style estate along Lake Michigan in Lake Bluff, IL led by Thomas Gleason, its collections manager. This home has architectural salvage from an 18th century Virginia residence and rooms inspired by collections of the Met Museum of New York City. Along with several outbuildings for professional staff, Adler also designed one of the oldest, private, indoor tennis courts in America here. The estate was built in 1926 for the family who invented the McCormick Agriculture Reaper, founded major banks and the eponymous investment banking firm, William Blair and Company. David Adler studied architecture at Princeton, the Polytechnikum in Munich and at the famed École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. While bicycling around Europe, he collected books and over 500 postcards on the exquisite architecture of its past for his personal library. A historicist, he was expertly skilled in creating rooms of perfect proportion and scale with the discriminating use of historical details.

#103 Career
Award winning architect of the world’s tallest structure, Adrian D. Smith, and his real estate developer son, Jason, share their restoration experience and architecture tour as owners of “Innisfail II”, the nearly razed, David Adler designed, 17,000 square foot, Norman farm manor home in Lake Forest, IL. Built in 1930 for the Cudahys of Morton Salt, Morton Arboretum, Armour-Cudahy Meat Packing and Sinclair Oil, it was planned like a French country village with connected dependencies and architectural salvage from France and England. Adler moved from studying in Europe to Chicago in 1911 and began his architecture career. Though he chose to work mostly in the classical vocabulary inspired by the elegant architecture of history, he was friends with Modern architects including internationally renown Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who he recommended to head the new architecture school of the Armour Institute of Technology (now IIT) in Chicago.

#104 An Era Ends
A guided visit by author, librarian Arthur Hawks Miller, to what has been called David Adler’s last great essay in Georgian architecture. Built in 1934 during the Depression, this residence was inspired by Cecil House in England and perhaps Cliveden House in Germantown, PA. Its interior has flooring salvaged from Europe, an impressive library, an elegant chinoiserie fretwork stair rail and decorative plasterwork in the style of Claydon House in England. Adler’s clients, Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Wheeler, owned a Chicago manufacturer of crude iron and coke fuel, and was family of the “Wheat King”, an uber-successful commodities trader. Adler understood his Classical architecture was all in the Great House Era whose ending had commenced at this time, due to economic and social change along with the rise of Modern architects. He is remembered for meticulous attention to detail demonstrated by his drawings in the unusual scale of actual size. View examples of this in plans of the roof urns and the dining room’s ceiling plaster ornament. Adler died unexpectedly in 1949 with clients waiting with new commissions. Classical architecture is still relevant and needed. David Adler’s enduring portfolio is incomparable.

Program Rights

Broadcast Rights:
Rights Dates:
1/15/2022 - 1/14/2025
School Rights:
1 year
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