Oral Histories

Oral Histories 2017-09-15T15:05:27+00:00
A number of oral history interviews have been conducted by the Farnsworth House Resource Center staff. These range from two grade school students who attended summer French lessons taught by Dr. Farnsworth at the house to friends that frequently visited the site. Each interview provides a unique, first hand recollections of Dr. Farnsworth and Mies van der Rohe. These interviews can be made available for research by appointment.

Parkie & Neil Emmons

This couple were friends of Dr. Farnsworth in Chicago. In later years they moved to Plano and would visit Dr. Farnsworth in her house along the Fox River. They provide an in-depth view of many facets of Dr. Farnsworth’s life and personality.

Kelly Simms, Corey Mundwiler & Ellyn Kivitts

One summer, Dr. Farnsworth gave grade school students Kelly Simms and her cousin, Corey Mundwiler, weekly French lessons at her house. Mrs. Ellyn Kivitts, Kelly’s mother, recounts meetings with Dr. Farnsworth. Kelly and Corey tell of Dr. Farnsworth’s interest in developing an appreciation for culture.

Lorene Burson Norem

Mrs. Norem’s brother, Norman, lived across the road from Dr. Farnsworth. He became a good friend of both Dr. Farnsworth and Lord Peter Palumbo. Mrs. Norem recounts trips made by her brother to Italy to visit Dr. Farnsworth and to England to visit Lord Palumbo. Also discussed are her son’s relationship with Lanning Roper, Lord Palumbo’s landscape architect.

Dick Young

Mr. Young was employed by Kendall County at the time a new bridge was being planned the late 1960’s. He worked with Dr. Farnsworth in trying to stop the bridge construction adjacent to her property. Mr. Young is a local author writing about the plants of Kane County. He was instrumental in improving many environmental issues as they pertain to Kane and Kendall counties, as well as the Fox River.

William Murphy

Attorney William Murphy represented Mies van der Rohe in 1952 when Mies sued Dr. Edith Farnsworth for payments due after the Farnsworth House construction was completed. Later, in 1968, he then represented Dr. Farnsworth when she attempted to stop the construction of a new bridge next to her property. Mr. Murphy shares his thoughts and fascinating insights about both individuals.