The International Museum of Surgical Science, a division of the International College of Surgeons (ICS), maintains over 10,000 square feet of public galleries committed to the history of surgery, and an exquisite permanent collection of art and artifacts from the history of medicine.
The house you are standing in wasn’t always a museum--it used to be a home. It belonged to Eleanor Robinson Countiss (1887-1931), an heiress to the fortune of the Diamond Match Company, and her family. This home was built for her in 1917 as a wedding present from her father after her marriage to Frederick Downer Countiss. This building is a close replica of Le Petit Trianon, a small chateau at Versailles in France used by Marie Antoinette.
Eleanor was a socialite, and moved in the highest echelons of society. This home would have hosted extravagant parties attended by Chicago’s most prominent families including the Drakes, the McCormicks, the Mortons, and the Shedds. Eleanor herself was fashionable and elegant; her clothing has been exhibited by the Chicago Historical Society (Now the Chicago History Museum) and collected by the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
This home also played a central role in several civic initiatives, particularly during World War I. Eleanor was active in the war effort, and coordinated several charity organizations. As leader of the Chicago chapter of the Red Cross, she organized a civilian ambulance service called the Red Cross Motorcorps, and she compiled a newsletter for the local chapter of the Navy League.