Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Living in the Monsanto House of the Future

By Keith Mahne

In 1957, Monsanto demonstrated its vision for future housing, emphasizing the use of plastics. Its House of the Future was displayed at Disneyland from 1957 through 1967, and it envisioned a future home from the then-distant future of 1986. The house featured lavish conveniences including a microwave oven, ultrasonic dishwasher, cold areas in place of refrigerators and freezers, and dimmable ceiling lights -- and that was just the kitchen. Join us today as we travel back to Disneyland at the dawn of the 1960s and take a tour of the nostalgia-packed Monsanto House of the Future...

Chemicals manufacturer Monsanto opened its House of the Future to Disneyland guests in 1957. In the midst of the Cold War and standing at the threshold of the Space Age, the future was where we all wanted to be. The futuristic four winged structure sat elevated on a central pedestal. Perched out over a landscaped garden featuring a waterfall and pond, the Monsanto created home provided an oasis of calm in the midst of Walt Disney's bustling amusement park.

The House of the Future sat on a prime piece of Disneyland real estate just off the Hub, adjacent to the Circarama theater. The home was one of two free attractions sponsored by Monsanto with the other being the Hall of Chemistry. The home was just one of a number of fairground houses of the future that never made it off the ground and into the marketplace.

The fiberglass components of the house were manufactured by Winner Manufacturing Company in Trenton, New Jersey, and were assembled into the house on-site. The attraction offered a tour of a home set in the year 1986, and featured household appliances such as microwave ovens, which did eventually became commonplace.

Visitors were treated to a glimpse of carefree futuristic living inside a plastic-walled floating cruciform structure with picture phones, height-adjustable sinks, dishes washed by ultrasonic waves, and atomic food preservation. "It was the permanence, the durability of plastic that made the Monsanto house a marvel," writes Bernard Cooper in his book Maps to Anywhere. "The wings, it was said, would never sag. The plastic floor would never buckle, chip, or crack." At the time, 30 percent of Monsanto's business was in plastics, synthetic resins, and surface coatings.

The house saw over 435,000 visitors within the first six weeks of opening, and ultimately saw over 20 million visitors before being closed.

The house survived the introduction of New Tomorrowland in 1967, but closed shortly after, as Monsanto's attention shifted to their new sponsored attraction, Adventure Thru Inner Space. The building was so sturdy that when demolition crews failed to demolish the house using wrecking balls, torches, chainsaws and jackhammers, the building was ultimately demolished by using choker chains to crush it into smaller parts. The reinforced polyester structure was so strong that the half-inch steel bolts used to mount it to its foundation broke before the structure itself did.

The reinforced concrete foundation of the House of the Future was never removed. It currently exists in its original location, now found in the Pixie Hollow attraction. The foundation has been painted green and is currently in use as a planter...

The reinforced concrete foundation of the House of the Future as it appears today.

Take a look at this wonderful little film that offers a fantastic look back at the Monsanto House of the Future as it appeared in real life...

(For your viewing pleasure, be sure to pause the Disney Avenue Music Player at the top, left-hand corner of the page prior to starting the video below if you are on a desktop computer.)


Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four. Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true every day.

You can find all of Keith's articles here.

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