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Culture Watch : The Future Was Then

September 09, 1993|STEVE TICE

Long before ToonTown there was Disneyland's "House of the Future," which showcased modernistic ideas and gizmos. The house, which opened in June, 1957, was the brainchild of engineers and architects from Monsanto Chemical Co. and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The structure, a set of molded plastic modules attached to a central core, rested atop a concrete pedestal near the entrance to Tomorrowland. Five main rooms were 16 by 16 feet laid out on an X-shaped floor plan.

Everything was plastic, fiberglass, vinyl, nylon, polyethylene or acrylics. Nothing would ever rust or need painting. There would be no cracked plaster, no leaky roof.

At the touch of a button, the oven and refrigerator disappeared into a wall. Microwaves cooked food and ultrasound waves cleaned dirty dishes. Telephones possessed nifty features like push-button, preset dialing. Wall- and ceiling-mounted transceivers freed users to roam.

The "climate control center" filtered and cooled or heated the air and could also circulate a preferred scent in individual rooms. Foam-backed plastic floor coverings kept everyone walking softly.

More than 20 million visitors toured the "House of the Future" until it closed in September, 1967--it was obsolete.

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