Artist Martyl Langsdorf, mistress of Schweikher House and creator of the world's scariest logo | Bleader

Artist Martyl Langsdorf, mistress of Schweikher House and creator of the world's scariest logo

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Schweikher House
  • Nathan Kirkman
  • Schweikher House
Fourteen years ago, when the Village of Schaumburg rescued the storied Schweikher house from destruction by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, I toured the house and met its diminutive occupant, artist Martyl Langsdorf. She and her husband, nuclear physicist Alexander Langsdorf, Jr., had purchased the home in 1953 from its designer, architect Robert Paul Schweikher.

Schweikher was a modernist who worked for, or with, the likes of David Adler, Fred Keck, and Philip Maher. He'd built the redwood and brick house, an early blend of Prairie School and International style, for himself in 1938, but was leaving to head up the architecture department at Yale. (He subsequently held the same job at what is now Carnegie Mellon.)

Alexander Langsdorf was an Argonne Lab scientist who'd done critical work on the Manhattan Project and petitioned the president not to drop the atomic bomb on cities. He was a founder of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

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  • Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
And Martyl Langsdorf, a painter, created the world's scariest logo—the Bulletin's iconic Doomsday Clock.

Martyl Langsdorf died last week at the age of 96. A widow for nearly 17 years, she'd continued living in the house under an agreement with the village. Here's the Reader story I wrote about it when she was still there to greet visitors.

The house is now managed by the Schweikher House Preservation Trust. Director Todd Wenger says its "fragile" condition prevents broad access, but they'll probably be opening it to the public more frequently. Check the Trust's website for possible future tours.

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