The Century of Progress House
Location: 1324 Maple Ave, Downers Grove, IL 60515
Building style/form: Georgian
Date built: 1936
This is a Downers Grove Landmark

The Century of Progress House has been recognized as part of the Society’s Historic Home Program. The house has also been landmarked by the Village of Downers Grove. The house is notable for the both builder and a famous scientist who lived there.

The house was one of seven model homes in the General Electric national architectural competition, and featured modern innovations including convenient layout and advanced appliances. It was featured in the 1935 edition of the Downers Grove Reporter.

The architect of the building was Wheaton-based Robert H Salisbury. This building is the work of J.T. Schless, a master builder. Mr. Schless was a prominent builder in Downers Grove who was responsible for a variety of residential and commercial buildings in the village and DuPage County. His notable work includes the Tivoli Theatre that still stands at 5021 Highland Avenue. Additionally, he was involved with the Chicago Exposition of 1933 and the New York World’s fair in 1939. Mr. Schless contributed to the development of the community.

Few alterations have been made to the building; the west side of the porch has been enclosed.

From 1950 to 1974, Dr. William Polk Jesse lived in this house. Dr. Polk was an eminent scientist at the University of Chicago’s Metallurgical Laboratory during the Manhattan Project and contributed significantly through scientific research including the discovery of the “Jesse Effect and Related Phenomena” in 1952.

For more information, see the Village of Downers Grove Landmarking Resolution for this house.

Historic Home submitted by: Joan and David Kresl
Approved: 2018
Landmark submitted by: Joan and David Kresl
Landmark Criteria:
  1. Historic Event
  2. Person of Historic Significance
  3. Master Builder


1324 Maple Ave, Downers Grove, IL 60515

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