And He Built A Geometrically Precise House

heinlein1It may have been the Golden Age of science fiction but every author knew there was more gold outside the field than inside.

Robert A. Heinlein worked hard to market his work to the mainstream. He sold to the Saturday Evening Post (1947). He scripted Destination Moon (1950; its special effects won an Oscar). He tried to get his stories on television.

His fame among Americans received a mighty boost in 1952 thanks to his latest serial in Boy’s Life, an appearance on Edward R. Murrow’s radio show This I Believe, and a Popular Mechanics feature about the house he and Virginia Heinlein built in Colorado Springs.

”A House To Make Life Easy” by Thomas E. Stimson, Jr. ran in the June 1952 issue of Popular Mechanics. It begins:

In what kind of house will a spaceship captain live during his stopovers on earth?

It’s too early to say yet, though probably it will contain some of the features of a residence just built by Robert A. Heinlein in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The engineering training that gives him a solid background for writing about the mechanics of space travel also has helped him in designing a house that’s called extreme today but may become conventional before the 20th century has run its course.

Curiously, “Mrs. Heinlein” appears in several photos, but unlike Robert, her first name is never mentioned. Popular Mechanics may have been enthusiastic about the house of the future, however, it showed no curiosity about the family of the future – or even the next decade. The traditional 1950s family roles remained undisturbed —

A time-consuming domestic chore is that of carrying dishes to the dining table before a meal and then carrying them back to the kitchen after a meal is finished. In the Heinlein house the table rolls right into the kitchen where all the silver, china and food dishes are laid out. Then the table is pushed through the wall into the dining area. It goes back into the kitchen again after a meal and Mrs. Heinlein transfers the dishes directly to the dishwasher.

[Link via David Brin.]

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10 thoughts on “And He Built A Geometrically Precise House

  1. Suspect to Lt Columbo: “What is your first name?”
    Lt Columbo: Lieutenant
    Suspect: “What is your wife’s name?”
    Lt Columbo: “Mrs. Columbo”

    At least “Mrs. Heinlein” has an “office” in the kitchen…

  2. Macolm in the Middle: what’s the last name?

    I’d read one curio item that Heinlein had written an eight page outline for a film the he wanted Abbott and Costello to do….

  3. Interestingly, the Monsanto “House of the Future” which was on display at Disneyland for so many years was full of devices most of which we now have — it was taken down in part because the moving wave of the present had caught up to and passed it. Yet, it lacked features the Heinlein’s Colorado Springs house had which are still not in common use, but would be a great boon to daily living.

    I cannot but wonder why who bought the property after the Heinleins moved to Bonny Doon tore down the house and built anew, as I have no doubt that whatever plans the new owner used were inferior to their design.

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