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Yesteryear home restored
Apr 08, 2013 | 988 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WOODSBORO – Once upon a time, Disneyland in Yesterland displayed the House of the Future.

It was made of plastics, had four wings shaped like a clover, synthetic furniture, a microwave (wow!), other fixtures and a large TV on the wall (back then, it didn’t work).

When the exhibit became outdated, the House of the Future was put under the wrecking ball in 1967 – it had a 10-year life. But that ball bounced off the structure. Workers had to go in with hacksaws and dismantled the thing piece by piece.

A couple of years after the House of the Future was built in Yesterland, another house of the future was built in Woodsboro on Locke Street. That was in 1959-60.

Layton and Louise Brown built the house. They lived in a small structure on top of the garage while the main house with its three-car garage was being built.

Once the house was built, the Browns tore the garage down that the little house was on top of. They left the little house (now on the ground) for servants’ quarters.

“He was an oil tycoon and money was no object,” said Kenneth Wiginton, who bought the house in August from the sole remaining relative of the Browns – Judith Staples.

After the Browns passed away, the house was inherited by great nieces and nephews.

“(Layton) built it to be a party house for entertaining,” Wiginton said.

Wiginton said he’s heard that the house was featured in an architectural magazine in the 1960s, but in his research, he has not been able to find the write-up.

“Oil men, lawyers and ranchers came over for parties on Saturday night,” he said.

Wiginton said the house is “U” shaped and has 13 outside walls.

“The house was designed that way to catch the wind,” he said.

And anywhere you stand in the house, a soft breeze cools the rooms as long as the windows are open.

“It has floor to ceiling windows. You really don’t need air conditioning,” Wiginton said.

The house has an intercom system throughout and outside and 44 recessed fluorescent lights.

In its kitchen, an appliance control center can accommodate a coffee maker (even has a timer on the center console), a wok, slow cooker or other kitchen tools.

There are 13 Lazy Susans in the cabinets and closets.

“They put in three-phase currents for extra electricity. And they installed a commercial central air unit when home units were in their infancy,” Wiginton said.

“It’s still out there, but it is not efficient. In its time, it was amazing,” he said.

Telephone jacks are in every room, including those next to the commodes in all the bathrooms.

The house has telephone nooks for those dial-type phones.

Wiginton said Brown also installed coaxial cable connections in all the rooms.

“They had cable TV in those days, but it is not the same kind as today’s,” he noted.

“They thought about electricity outside and almost everywhere, but not in the bathrooms,” he added.

Two Montgomery Ward ceiling fans still work and the house also has a built-in entertainment center, built-in china hutches, built-in barbecue pit that uses wood or gas and a built-in gun cabinet.

And the courtyard had gas lights.

“The cupola on the roof is supposed to be 100 years old. I’m researching and trying to verify that,” Wigniton said.

On top of the cupola is a weather vane with a cowboy riding a bucking horse.

The house has an enclosed patio and once had a wooden privacy fence.

“That fence used to aggravate people of Woodsboro because they couldn’t see what was going on,” Wiginton said.

The fence has since been taken down.

The house has 3,700 square feet of living area and another 1,000 square feet of play area.

“Just to cover the roof was 50 squares (5,000 square feet),” he said.

“I still have to do the roof over the three-car garage.”

Wiginton said the old roof was a “forever” roof. But he had to replace it to meet wind storm and insurance requirements.

“The old roof was like cement. The guys are crying taking it off.”

When Wiginton first took over the house, he said it was overgrown with vines. The vines had come through the windows and had grown across the ceilings.

“The most challenging thing about this is finding workers in Refugio County – plumbers and carpenters. I’ve done all the electrical work myself and it is built to code,” he said.

But Wiginton was determined to restore the house. He was not going to let it fall into further disrepair and suffer the same consequences as Disney’s House of the Future.

He said the numerous closets in the house had an automatic light come on when they were opened.

“I disconnected those because they were considered a fire hazard,” he said.

Wigninton’s friend, Judy Vincent, has helped him restore the house. She also is working on a restoration of a 1861 house in Ohio.

She said 40 gallons of paint was used on the outside of the house while another 40 gallons was used on the inside.

Even though the Woodsboro house is no longer the house of the future, its features from 1959-60 were ahead of the times when it was built.

Now the house fits right in the 21st century.

“It’s a beautiful home. And it’s never had a family in it,” Wiginton lamented. “And it’s right across from the school.”
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