House of the Future

“The floors on which you are walking,
the gently sloping walls around you, and
even the ceilings are made of plastics.”
Monsanto House of the Future at Disneyland

Photo by Charles R. Lympany, courtesy of Chris Taylor

You’re visiting Yester-Tomorrowland between 1957 and 1967. Get ready to say goodbye to plaster walls, wooden furniture, wool carpets, and other traditional home items—and hello to their ultra-modern, synthetic replacements.

The House of the Future is a preview of what your next house might be like. This demonstration of style and technology will have you dreaming of entire neighborhoods of such futuristic houses.

Monsanto House of the Future at Disneyland

Photo by Merrill A. Garner, 1958, courtesy of M. Scott Garner

Geometrically perfect house with artistically perfect landscaping

Before you go inside, admire the outside. The House of the Future looks like nothing in your neighborhood. It has four equal cantilevered wings, each projecting 16 feet from a concrete center core. The wings are “floating” above beautifully landscaped grounds and waterfalls.

Monsanto House of the Future at Disneyland

Photo courtesy Orange County Archives, from the Linda Peach Warner Collection

On the rocks

Monsanto House of the Future at Disneyland

Photo by Roger J. Runck, 1959, courtesy of Robin Runck

Red “M” Monsanto logo on the attraction sign

Monsanto House of the Future at Disneyland

Photo by Charles R. Lympany, courtesy of Chris Taylor

Ribbon and bow as Christmas decorations

Monsanto House of the Future at Disneyland

diagram © Disney

Floor plan of your tour

There’s no need to reach for your ticket book. This is a free attraction, courtesy of the Monsanto Chemical Company of St. Louis, Missouri.

Start your visit with a walk up a short flight of stairs. Glance into the dining and family room, a comfortable place where the family of the future will play, rest, and dine on stylish plastic furniture. Your eyes will be drawn to the “Atoms for Living Kitchen” with its revolutionary microwave oven and ultrasonic dishwasher.

The kitchen and bathrooms are all located in the center core. It’s an efficient layout—and every faucet and shower head is near the water heater.

Monsanto House of the Future at Disneyland

From the collection of Brian Eychner | © Monsanto Chemical Company

Children’s rooms with movable folding plastic screens

Pass the two children’s bedrooms—one for the boy of the future and one for the girl of the future—and the shared kids’ bathroom. A movable folding plastic screen allows the rooms to be separated for privacy or combined for a larger play area.

Next, see the master bedroom and the main bathroom.

Monsanto House of the Future at Disneyland

From the collection of Brian Eychner | © Monsanto Chemical Company

Living room with a flat-panel TV shaped like a traditional TV screen

The fourth wing is the sleek living room. There’s a huge television mounted on the wall. It’s turned off—and you know why. This technology does not exist. It probably never will. After all, the depth of a television picture tube is related to its screen size.

After another glimpse of the wing with the kitchen and family room, you go down another set of stairs to the garden level. Your visit isn’t over yet.

Monsanto House of the Future at Disneyland

Photo by Roger J. Runck, 1961, courtesy of Robin Runck

Geospace Dome for outdoor living

The Geospace Dome is manufactured by Filtered Rosin Products, a subsidiary of Monsanto Chemical Company. It’s an inviting place to relax. Alas, you’re not allowed to sit down, just as you weren’t allowed to sit on the furniture inside the house.

Monsanto House of the Future at Disneyland

Photo by Roger J. Runck, 1959, courtesy of Robin Runck

At the base of brand new Matterhorn Mountain

Are you ready to sell your old home and move into a space age marvel like the House of the Future? How about if it’s also located in the center of the world’s best theme park?

At Disneyland, the House of the Future opened June 12, 1957 on a prime site just off the Hub, adjacent to the Circarama theater. The House of the Future was one of two free attractions sponsored by Monsanto in the 1950s. The other was the Hall of Chemistry, which closed in 1966.

Monsanto House of the Future at Disneyland

© Disney

Particularly inviting publicity photo

The House of the Future wasn’t dreamed up by Walt Disney’s Imagineers at WED Enterprises. That credit goes to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). An article in MIT Technology Review (“The House of the Future that Wasn’t,” by Lisa Scanlon, January 1, 2005) summarized how and why the project came to be:

“The house was the marriage of converging needs. During the early 1950s, homebuilders could barely keep up with demand as families moved to the suburbs. At the same time, Monsanto Chemical was looking for new markets for its plastic products. Seeing a business opportunity, the company sponsored research at MIT to design a low-cost, prefabricated house that would be made almost entirely of plastic. The researchers suggested the rounded, Jetsons-worthy home—which delighted Monsanto.

“MIT architecture faculty members Marvin Goody […] and Richard Hamilton spent two years designing the 1,280-square-foot house. In 1956, Monsanto decided to build a full-scale prototype and Goody and Hamilton formed a private practice to take over the commercial planning of the house. Meanwhile, Walt Disney was searching for exhibits for Disneyland, which had opened in 1955. He heard about the futuristic house and offered Monsanto space to display the prototype.”

In 1960, just three years after the House of the Future opened, Monsanto replaced the original decor and furnishings with a new “golden glow” interior. Tastes and technology had changed that quickly.

By 1967, the House of the Future seemed dated. Monsanto’s Adventure Thru Inner Space opened August 5, 1967 as part of New Tomorrowland. The House of the Future was doomed. For a brief time, the new ride and the plastic house walk-through co-existed, but in December 1967, the House of the Future closed permanently.

Legend has it that the planned one-day demolition of the House of the Future ended up taking two weeks. The wrecking ball had just bounced off the exterior, so workers had to painstakingly cut the house into pieces with hacksaws.

After the House of the Future was removed, the house’s landscaping, waterfalls, and walkways remained. The area, named Alpine Gardens, became home to a souvenir stand.

In 1996, Disneyland turned the area into Triton’s Garden, with a sculpture of King Triton and delightful jumping fountains. In 2008, Pixie Hollow moved in. The concrete base of the House of the Future is still there.

On February 13, 2008, the Disneyland Resort announced that a house of the future would return to Disneyland. The Innoventions Dream Home opened June 17, 2008. It wasn’t a return of the 1957 plastic marvel with visionary predictions. Tucked in the lower level of Innoventions, the future now looked much like the past, only with a lot of new technology.

The original House of the Future hasn’t been forgotten. In fact, for an attraction that’s been gone since 1967 because it was outdated, it’s amazing that there have continued to be homage to the House of the Future at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Monsanto hasn’t been forgotten either, even though the company is gone. In the 1940s and 1950s, Monsanto was primarily a chemicals, plastics, and synthetic fabrics company. In the 1960s, Monsanto became controversial due to its production of Agent Orange for the Vietnam War. In the 1990s, Monsanto began reinventing itself as an agribusiness company. After various acquisitions and spinoffs, the Monsanto of the 2000s and 2010s bore no resemblance to the Monsanto of House of the Future fame. Monsanto became successful—and one of the most hated companies in America—with its pesticides, plant biotechnology, GMO seeds, and business practices. In 2018, Monsanto was acquired by Bayer AG and is no longer a separate entity.

It’s sad that the House of the Future was not allowed to remain in Disneyland with continuous upgrades. Although it looked dated in the 1960s, it would have looked incredibly cool again a decade later—and still today.

With the introduction of Fujitsu’s plasma televisions in 1997, the living room could even have had a working flat-screen TV on the wall.

A Video, More Photos, and a New Book

There are a lot more great photos of the House of the Future just a click away. A second click will show you a 2½-minute video that’s well worth watching.

Monsanto House of the Future at Disneyland

Screen capture, February 9, 2022 | © 2022 Indiegogo, Inc.

Dave Bossert’s Indiegogo campaign

Dave Bossert—artist, filmmaker, Disney historian, and author—is working on a new book, The House of the Future: Walt Disney, MIT, and Monsanto’s Vision of Tomorrow. Click on the screen capture or book title above to bring up a new window with the Indiegogo page—the video, photos, and information about the book.

Are you familiar with these other two books by Dave Bossert?

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Updated February 11, 2022