When Bernie Vincelet saw his Futuro home in the 1970s, he knew space-age design had finally arrived.
“Growing up in the 1950s and ’60s, science fiction TV shows and movies, as well as some scientific magazines, promised fundamental changes through futuristic-style housing,” Vincelet said. Told.
But until I saw Futuro homes in catalogs, I couldn’t find anything that lived up to that promise in real life.
Most people told him that the house looked like a spaceship, a flying saucer.
“This is the only house I’ve ever seen that I’d want to live in,” he said.
After completing his service in the Air Force, he contacted the Philadelphia company that manufactured the homes and introduced him to Joe Hudson, a pilot and real estate businessman who operated Eagle Crest Airfield near Milton, Delaware. gave. Hudson purchased the North American distribution rights to Futuro Homes and received several model homes, including one that still stands in Eagle Crest.
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Vinceret lived in Georgia, but Georgia didn’t allow residential deliveries, so she moved to Delaware, where Hudson had already installed a “slightly used” car near Houston, east of Harrington. I sold Futuro to him.
That was in 1977, and ever since then, Vincelet has lived in a house shaped like a flying saucer. When he got married, his wife Carol moved in.
This nomination is reviewed by the National Park Service, which administers the program, and provides honorary and formal recognition of the site’s historical, architectural, or archaeological significance. The benefits of being listed on the National Register include eligibility for federal and state historic preservation programs and tax credits.
No bank will finance his Futuro home.
Getting a house was harder than Vincelet expected. In addition to the shipping problems that led him to move to Delaware, there were also difficulties in obtaining a mortgage and insurance.
“The house doesn’t look traditional and it’s not built in a traditional way, so the bank won’t give me a loan,” he said. “Insurance companies didn’t know how to insure.”
Fortunately, Hudson was willing to finance the purchase, so Vincelet made the payment to Hudson.
“I think we paid $13,000 or $14,000 for the house and another $6,000 for the land,” Vincelet said.
They were lucky to find a home that was already on the property, as attempts to bring Futuro to a new location often faced opposition from the town or city.
“They were rarely allowed in the municipality because they didn’t meet traditional building standards,” Vincelet said.
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What will it be like to live in the home of the future?
Designed in the late 1960s by Finnish architect Matti Sloonen as a “portable” ski chalet, Futuro House is constructed from glass fiber reinforced plastic, a product first developed for aircraft use.
The shell is a 2-inch thick plastic sandwich with polyurethane foam insulation sandwiched between the two layers. Weighing approximately 5,500 pounds unfurnished, the structure stands approximately 2 feet off the ground and is supported by four sets of steel legs and a central foundation section on a concrete foundation.
“It looks elegant, doesn’t it? It has its own beauty without having to embellish it with other architectural features or anything,” Vincelet said. There are no columns, dormers, or shutters.
Inside, almost everything is curved: walls, doors, and some of the surrounding furniture. The ceiling has a slightly flattened dome shape.
“I’ve gotten so used to it that when I go somewhere else, like a hotel, I wake up in a boxy room and feel disoriented,” Vincelet said. “I couldn’t imagine living in any other type of house.”
He says the rounded shape improves acoustics and suits his two hobbies: listening to music, especially classical music, on old-fashioned radios and stereo amplifier systems he builds using vacuum tubes. Ta.
Most of the house is open, but the bedrooms and bathrooms are wedged by walls.
The one-story home is small, about 500 square feet. Or should it be round feet? The building has a diameter of 26 feet and a height of 13 feet.
“Two people could live here comfortably, or a couple with children could live in a separate, small bedroom walled off,” Vincelet said.
The entrance staircase is part of a retractable door.
He said the insulation between the outer layers makes it more energy efficient than most homes and quieter inside.
“Heating and cooling costs have always been cheaper than a standard home until electricity prices went up,” he says.
Two major changes he made to the house were to make it more energy efficient.
“There was a fireplace and a chimney in the middle, and the chimney was wasting heat,” he said. So he sealed it up and added a skylight to keep it warm.
After that, electricity costs rose significantly, so we installed a heating and cooling system that uses geothermal heat.
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Nomination for National Register of Historic Places
When Vinceret asked about how to apply for the National Register of Historic Places, one of the people she was introduced to was still working at Wesley College in Dover (now the downtown campus of Delaware State University). said Stephanie Holyfield, a history professor at Wesley College.
In 2018, she agreed to compile candidates for the National Register in her junior and senior public history classes. They interviewed Vincelet, took photos of the house, and began investigating.
Her daughter, Valarie Shorter, was then a graduate student majoring in public history at James Madison University. She was interested in continuing her work with her mother after Wesley’s classes ended.
They found that the Futuro design was popular due to advances in aerospace technology, as well as Americans’ interest in space and Cold War science fiction.
“It was important for me to see the project through to its final stages, because the unusual architecture and its innovative materials have a place in our history,” Holyfield said. “Futuro captures a rare and singular moment.”
She said its design is highly regarded and Futuros is displayed in several museum collections in Europe.
“The architects wanted to create something beautiful, cutting edge and marketable,” Holyfield said. “His work happened to coincide with … Americans’ pursuit of spaceflight. This is particularly relevant to Delaware because the ILC and DuPont were heavily involved in spacesuits.”
In 1969, Leonard Fruchter received the first permit to build a home in the United States. As Mr. Holyfield and Mr. Shorter reported in their National Register nomination, his Philadelphia-based company contracted with a factory in Atlantic City to produce the product.
“A press release issued by the public relations firm Bernard Kaplan & Associates emphasized Futuros’ versatility and declared it an ideal beach house or ski lodge for up to eight people,” they wrote. ing.
In 1968, the average home price in the United States was $22,300, so “at $19,800, a Futuro was a significant investment for a vacation home, but still within the reach of many middle-class Americans.” ” they wrote.
However, Mr. Fruchter’s company went bankrupt. The main reason for this is that many towns and cities would not classify the structure as a mobile home and would not allow it. Then, the price of oil, the raw material for plastics, rose in the early 1970s, significantly increasing costs.
Fewer than 100 Futuro homes were produced, but more than 50 years later, the home still has a cult following. Futuro at Eagle Crest Airfield is the only known airfield in Delaware.
“They have become part of American popular culture and are still attracting new fans all the time. For most people, owning one or keeping it around is beyond the realm of possibility. So this is interesting,” Holyfield said.
there is Futuro website It also includes information about some of the houses that still stand. Vincelet contacted the website’s organizers and asked them to post photos and information about their home on the website.
“We hope that by applying for the National Register, these homes will be brought to the fore, protected and preserved,” Ms Vincelet said.
Reporter Ben Mace covers real estate and development news. Please contact email@example.com.