The International College of Surgeons (ICS) is a global organization dedicated to bringing together surgeons and surgical specialists of all nations, races, and creeds to promote surgical excellence for the benefit of all of mankind and to foster fellowship worldwide. ICS was founded in Geneva, Switzerland in 1935 by Dr. Max Thorek and is headquartered in Chicago at the historic E.T. Blair mansion on the shores of Lake Michigan. Attached to the headquarters of ICS is the International Museum of Surgical Science, founded in 1954.
Max Thorek, a Hungarian-born surgeon who practiced in Chicago, had a singular vision for the future of surgical sciences across the world. Today, we continue that tradition and the mission he founded for us when he formed the International College of Surgeons.
Built in 1914 as a single-family home for hardware merchant Edward Tyler Blair, the four-story French-chateau-inspired mansion has housed the International College of Surgeons since the early 1950s. The mansion and its next-door neighbor, home to the International Museum of Surgical Science (where the offices are moving), were designed by renowned architect William Kendall, of the New York firm McKim, Mead & White.
Behind the four-story building’s 10-foot-tall, wrought-iron doors you’ll find marble staircases, stained-glass windows, marble archways, nine fireplaces, intricate moldings, and herringbone-patterned hardwood flooring. Outside, there’s a 2,400-square-foot, two-story coach house and clear views of Lake Michigan. Used by ICS’s staff for office and meeting space when members are in town, it has been the home of the College since Max Thorek brought ICS to Chicago.
Declared a city landmark in 1989, the limestone mansion is only one of seven remaining manor homes along the inner-portion of Lake Shore Drive. Many features of the original design are intact, including grand salon-sized formal rooms, elaborate plaster ceilings, carved stone mantelpieces and wood paneling on the interior.
Blair was the son of an early Chicago hardware merchant, and she was a niece of Cyrus McCormick, inventor of the mechanical reaper. Their son William founded what’s now Chicago-based financial services firm William Blair.
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