BACKSTORY (June 12, 1957–December 1967): One of two free attractions sponsored by Monsanto (the other was the Hall of Chemistry) was this walk-through tour of a plastic house with plastic furnishings and fascinating modern appliances such as dishwashers, microwave, intercom system, and closets filled with polyester clothes. Designed by Marvin Goody & Richard Hamilton, the house only existed for the 10 year length of Monsanto’s lease, at which time they moved on to the Adventure Thru Inner Space attraction. Goody & Hamilton were MIT architecture faculty members sponsored by Monsanto to find new markets for their plastic products. They took 2 years to design the 1,280 sq. ft. home, at which time they formed their own private firm to take over the commercial planning of the project. Disney felt the Monsanto House was a perfect fit for Tomorrowland and offered the space to Monsanto. Construction began at Disneyland on January 7, 1957. The house was made from eight prefabricated white plastic sections with large windows and was anchored to a solid concrete foundation that was earthquake rated. The house consisted of a central square room with four wings. The kitchen & bathroom were in the center, and each wing had one room: master bedroom, children’s bedroom, dining room, and a living room. Each wing was made of fiberglass modules placed one on top of the other to form the ceiling, floor, and wall; the remaining two walls were windows. When the modules arrived at the park, ready for assembly, the Disneyland receiving clerks thought they were part of a boat, and not a Home of the Future. Preview day was June 11; actual public opening on June 12. Although 60,000+ guests toured and were awed by the home each week, it wasn’t a very viable housing concept at the time and was eventually removed.
When it was dismantled, the house was so indestructible that the crew gave up and left some of the support pilings in place (they can still be seen in Neptune’s Grotto between the Tomorrowland entrance and Fantasyland). Supposedly the planned one-day demolition ended up taking two weeks as the wrecking ball just bounced off the exterior. Workers cut the house into pieces with hacksaws. After it was removed, the house’s landscaping, waterfalls, and walkways (and sturdy base!) remained. The area, renamed “Alpine Gardens,” became home to a souvenir stand. In 1995, the King Triton & Ariel sculptures and fountains were added.
On February 13, 2008, Disney announced that the House of the Future was returning: a 5,000 sq. ft. tract home would be built and ready for guests by May 2008 inside of the Innoventions Carousel. Instead of Audio Animatronic figures, actors would portray the family (The Elias family) that lives in the house. By the time the “home” was opened, it was titled “Innoventions Dream Home,” as it was more innovative than futuristic. To see photos of the Dream Home, click here.
Tom Lundin has done a heckuvalotta’ work in recreating this Mid Century masterpiece. I have featured some of his renderings below, along with the vintage photos of the actual structure. I have also had the good fortune of receiving some photos directly from Goody Clancy, the Boston Firm that designed the Monsanto House. Many thanks to David!
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