The Former Residents

Martyl (1917–2013) and Alexan­der (1912–1996) Langs­dorf pur­chased the home of mas­ter archi­tect Paul Schweikher in 1953. Martyl, a life-long fine artist, fell in love with the for­mer archi­tec­tural stu­dio and used the space to paint her mas­ter­pieces until her death in 2013 at the age of 96.

Martyl and her hus­band, Alexan­der, a physi­cist who stud­ied at MIT and at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley before mov­ing to Chicago in 1943, had come to the Windy City at the invi­ta­tion of Enrico Fermi to begin work on what was then the top secret Man­hat­tan Project at the Uni­ver­sity of Chicago. Both Martyl and Alexan­der were natives of St. Louis. Before com­ing to Chicago, Alexan­der had helped build a cyclotron at Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity in St. Louis.

Unre­lated to her husband’s sci­en­tific work, Martyl also had a hand in the his­tory of atomic sci­ence. She designed the Dooms­day Clock for the June 1947 issue of The Bul­letin of the Atomic Sci­en­tists. This uni­ver­sally rec­og­nized clock is still used to denote the world’s impend­ing vul­ner­a­bil­ity to nuclear war.