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.
The historic lakeside mansion that is now the International College of Surgeon was constructed in 1917, under the careful direction of Eleanor Robinson Countiss (for which it is named) to house her family. Her father, JK Robinson, an executive of the Diamond Match Company, generously provided the home building fund.
The historic lakeside mansion that is now both the International College of Surgeons and the International Museum of Surgical Science was constructed in 1917, under the careful direction of Eleanor Robinson Countiss (for which it is named) to house her family. Her father, JK Robinson, an executive of the Diamond Match Company, generously provided the home building fund.
The elegant structure was designed to follow the historic lines of Le Petit Trianon, a French chateau on the grounds of Versailles completed in 1770 by architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel, and remembered as the playhouse of Marie Antoinette. The architect Howard Van Doren Shaw was hired to design the Countiss House with modifications including a fourth floor and a carriage drive.
Original interior finishes of polished limestone, Italian marble, decorative plaster, brass fixtures and hardware, eight stone fireplaces, and a gilded metal staircase are among the features which have been preserved.
The Countiss family was the sole owner of the building until it was acquired by Dr. Max Thorek and the International College of Surgeons. After several years of renovating the building and forming the Museum collection, the Museum opened its doors to the public in 1954.
One of the few remaining lakefront mansions in Chicago, and the only one open to the public, the building received historic status in 1988, and is listed in the National Register and the Illinois Register of Historic Places and is a City of Chicago Landmark.
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