Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Between Books - The House of Tomorrow


Book cover for the House of the Future showing an artists depiction of the while mushroom like home in front of the Matterhorn.

David Bossert gives Disney fans a tour of an attraction that graced Disneyland with Walt Disney’s spirit of innovation for a decade, but that he never experienced. The Monsanto House of the Future ended its run in a Disney park over fifty years ago. But it still is hailed by Disney fans as giving us a snapshot of how Walt Disney may have seen his EPCOT’s role in educating and entertaining.

David A. Bossert in The House of the Future: Walt Disney, MIT, and Monsanto’s Vision of Tomorrow provides a visual history and tour of the extinct Monsanto House of the Future which demonstrated the power of plastics in our near future from 1957 to 1967. Bossert starts by giving readers a history of plastics and the story of how Disney, MIT, and Monsanto came together with the idea to build a showcase home using primarily plastics as a building material and furnishings. This history is followed by a visual tour of the home, using archival pictures that show readers the layout and furnishing of the showcase, complete with renovations that occurred during its decade of existence. The book ends with legacy, with Bossert balancing a discussion of plastics and their impact on the environment, with an overview of the House of the Retro Future Suite down the street from Disneyland at the Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel.

I never visited the Monsanto House of the Future, it was gone well before I was born. And I think this is probably the closest I can get. The House of the Retro Future Suite is a fantastically designed tribute to the extinct attraction, but it is not a reproduction. The sequence of photos that Bossert provided gave me the sense of a walking tour. His written narration made me feel like I had a researched in-person guide weaving me through the rooms of the home… especially since I don’t know anything about architecture or the chemical composition of plastics. The experience also reminded me of the Imagineering books that give us the behind-the-scenes, story overview, concept art, and images of the final attraction all in one package.

I will say as Disney fans, we have visited Pixie Hollow and debated walls and stones which may have been part of the Monsanto House of the Future. Bossert uses images, his walkthrough, and other experts to attempt to put to rest what of the house remains. This discussion gives us the blueprint to be able to do our fieldwork during future visits to see Tinkerbell.

I’ve never visited the Monsanto House of the Future. With it being extinct for 50 years, there is a chance you haven’t either. David A. Bossert through The House of the Future: Walt Disney, MIT, and Monsanto’s Vision of Tomorrow gives us a path to visit this attraction through the page. It also gave me an experience, I would love to have for other attractions that I can no longer visit. 


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