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Squatting In Monsanto’s House Of The Future, 1957

Disneyland’s long history is full of oddities that might amaze those of us who missed the park’s first few decades, or who were never able to visit until later years. A lot of those “lost” mid-century novelties were located in Tomorrowland, which underwent several major overhauls in its early years and was home to many short-lived exhibits.

One of the most famous of these was Monsanto’s “House of the Future”, which occupied a spot right off of the park’s central plaza from 1957 to 1967. As much a World’s Fair exhibit as a theme park attraction, the house used “modern” building techniques to create a unique four-lobed, plastic structure chock-full of the latest electronic amenities.

What must it have been like to visit? What would it have been like to live in such a wondrous home? Well, thankfully, we have this promotional film to show us just what it would have been like if we showed up at the park and just decided to move in. Those thousands of people waiting in line won’t mind; just make yourself at home!

This video is truly spectacular, and joins the pantheon of mid-century promotional films featuring odd hallucinations about having nicer appliances; it’s slightly more grounded than Once Upon A Honeymoon or Design For Dreaming, but still delightfully strange. Amazingly, both those films were made in 1956 – just a year before the House of the Future opened and this short was most likely filmed. In one of the opening shots of the house you can see the large steel support for the Skyway in the background; this would soon be replaced by the Matterhorn which opened in 1959.

So kick off your shoes and pop something in the microwave range – make yourself at home, it’s the future! Just don’t forget to change out of your park-going formal wear before you start dinner…

 

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13 comments to Squatting In Monsanto’s House Of The Future, 1957

  • RO93461

    I wonder what the HOF smelled like in the Summer? I can imagine that there would be significant off gassing once things warm up given the interior seems so eased and insulated. I’m hoping it smelled like a ditto sheet.

    • You know, that’s a great point and I’d never thought about that. All that glass and white plastic – heck, I have modern plastic things that yellow in the sun. Thankfully that super-advanced air cooling would have kept the air moving!

  • Meet George Jetson. Jane, his wife.

    The only thing missing is flying cars!

  • RO93461

    I would expect the housing in EPCOT’s “Progess City” to be as innovative as what is demonstrated here.

  • From now on, whenever I am in my dressing room, you are to address me as “m’lady”.

    Well – that’s another winner – where to start? – let’s put aside all the inappropriate clothing – cause I know I have my gloves and kitten heels on when visiting disney or cleaning te house.

    I really appreciated the opening sequence of hinting at the philosophy behind the house. “A revolution is disorderly” “MIT must bring form to this spontaneous outburst” Of course Marx said that when the revolution comes resolution of the dialectic contradiction must be violent! Did they use plastic Monsanto guns?

    • The wardrobe change cracked me up. Because, of course, they were super fancy in the first place. Just another day at the park!

      I had TOTALLY not heard the revolution thing the first time I watched – that is so amazing! “Don’t worry about the reds, America – Monsanto has it locked down!” What incredible subtext.

  • Thanks for finding this gem of video. It’s nice to look back from the future to see what some envisioned what the future could be. I could use some of the ideas shown to customize my place.

  • mira

    Thanks for posting this great film. The housewife talking to herself and then going into a trance about the perfect house (or kitchen or washer/dryer) was a staple of promotional films of that time. It’s as if women couldn’t say what they wanted out loud. In the shot where we see the people in line at the park, the house appears to be really tiny. It would probably be a claustrophobic place to live. I like the last shot where the housewife is silhouetted against the “decorative, plastic, laminated, safety glass.” Through it we see the Disney Castle. However, she herself seems to be looking past it, caressing the window, still in her dream state. The allure of the HOF transcends even Disneyland.

    • Excellent points. I was blown away when I realized that “Design for Dreaming” and “Once Upon a Honeymoon” were made in the same year. That just says SO much. And then this right on the heels.

      You make a good point about how small it must have been. As a kid I assumed it had been large – a house, and all that. But the plot it was on in Disneyland was tiny, so it must have been cramped. But the glass – it was so *safe*!

  • Melissa

    I miss the old future!

  • Stacy

    Is anybody else a little disturbed by the term “irradiated food”?

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