Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Your own post-war utopia

Leisurama!

With production done, keep an eye out for Leisurama - A Documentary (via) and until then you can read a bit about Leisurama Living.

While I'm certainly impressed by the list of included furnishings, my Leisurama home wouldn't be complete without the finest chaises-longues of the era. More seriously,

"A prototype of the Leisurama house gained international recognition in 1959 when it was displayed by the United States as a typical American home at a Moscow trade fair. Vice President Richard M. Nixon noted that it was available to the average American worker. The exhibit prompted the famous 'kitchen debate' when the Soviet leader, Nikita S. Khrushchev, claimed that Leisurama's General Electric kitchen, with its modern appliances, was purely for show and the house meant for only the rich."

According to the NY Times real estate desk, originally priced between $11 000 and $16 000, and marketed as a vacation-house, Leisurama homes in the Montauk area were selling for around $400 000 in early 2003.

And while I find it fascinating that some people have kept the original homes and their furnishings intact, I find it even more interesting that most have been renovated over the years. The original aluminum windows rusted in the sea air and provided little insulation for those who wanted to dwell in the houses year-round. In addition to replacing windows and siding, ceilings have been raised, and second floors and skylights added.

I love that even pre-fab architecture is never done -- and I'm reminded how design specs and marketing projections often enough fail to account for potential, let alone actual, long-term use.

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