The Keys to a Chicago Manse

In cities nationwide, grand mansions are often admired, usually from a distance, because they are privately owned. That’s not the case in Chicago, where a visitor can gain access to an intriguing lakeside mansion for the price of admission to International Museum of Surgical Science. It is not only North America’s only museum devoted to surgery, but it is an architectural masterpiece. Built in 1917, the lines of the house were modeled after Le Petit Trianon, a French chateau on the grounds of Versailles which was the playhouse of Marie Antoinette. That means that an Austrian amputation saw with a reversible blade, original X-rays from 1910, and trephined skulls from ancient Peru are set within a gorgeous interior of polished limestone, Italian marble and decorative plasterwork. The four levels are connected by elevator or by a staircase of gilded metal. Approximately 1,000 rare books are filed away in the most historically intact room of the entire mansion: the study, now the museum’s library. While the library is for researchers only, throughout the year, special architectural tours and events do allow admittance.

08b-chicago-surgical-interior

08c-chicago-surgical-marble

Photos Courtesy International Museum of Surgical Science Facebook