The first-ever “Television House” – designed by Rudolph Matern in 1948

Architect Rudolph Matern and the first "Television House" ever

How interesting — editors of the Small Homes Guide in 1948 declared that this was the first house they had ever seen “especially designed for television.” Architect Rudolph A. Matern created the home with a special television alcove where folks could watch “prize fights and ball games” without filling the center of the living room with furniture.

Architect Rudolph Matern and the first "television alcove"

Television was introduced as early as 1928, but it took a while to get the technology right. It was gearing up, just as World War II started. After a delay, TV took off bigtime so that by 1948, you can see why “where to put the TV” started becoming an issue. Hmmm. I think it’s a pretty good guess that Matern’s T-V alcove grew to be – the Family Room!

Some TV history
According to Wikipedia: The FCC issued the first commercial television licenses to NBC and CBS owned stations in New York on July 1, 1941, followed by Philco’s station in Philadelphia, then licensed as WPTZ and eventually licensed again as the present-day KYW-TV. After the U.S. entry into World War II, the FCC reduced the required minimum air time for commercial television stations from 15 hours per week to 4 hours. Most TV stations suspended broadcasting. On the few that remained, programs included entertainment such as boxing and plays, events at Madison Square Garden, and illustrated war news as well as training for air raid wardens and first aid providers. In 1942, there were 5,000 sets in operation, but production of new TVs, radios, and other broadcasting equipment for civilian purposes was suspended from April 1942 to August 1945.


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  1. John Q says

    Hi, very nice idea. My home was built in 1959 and it has a small room off the kitchen that I believe was designed to be either a TV room or den or both.
    I have taken one of my three bedrooms and turned it into the TV/music room so that when entertaining the livingroom with fireplace is for conversation and entertaining. Those that want to watch TV have their own room down the hall.

  2. says

    What a stupid idea, that will never catch on. Nothing will ever replace the radio. Not unless the Reds take over, then we might see things as absurd as a home computer in every house. Nonesense.

  3. VacationBarbie says

    When I was looking at houses we went through a pretty close duplicate to this home. We couldn’t figure out what the tiny room upstairs was for….a nursery? Now we know….it was a designated dressing room!

  4. Richard Flanagan says

    I am looking for a house plan that was designed by Rudolph A Matern. It was Design T-504 Ranch House. It was shown as the House of the week in the Wichita Beacon in late Feb. 1956..”A Quality Plan Selected by AP News Features.

    Thank You

  5. jennifer sweeney says

    We have this house! I have that same article/plan from the original owners. I have never seen it anywhere else! Amazing.

    • pam kueber says

      WOW! I would love to see pics if you want to send some, Jennifer! retrorenovation [at] gmail [dot] com

  6. Sharon says

    I have the book 50 House Plans for 1950 by Rudolph A. Matern, Architect. It has Design A-1 – A-50 – if ever anyone wanted a particular design. I can scan and send to you.

  7. Tom says

    My parents built Design A-8 from “50 House Plans for 1950” in a Syracuse, NY, suburb in 1949. They worked w/ Rudolph Matern’s office to tweak the plan — the dining room was enlarged, and they asked for a two-car garage. Otherwise, the house looked just as it appears in the book. I grew up in that house, which stayed in our family until 1984. The current owners remodeled it out of recognition about five years ago. At least one other version of the same design was built in the Syracuse area. Also, a similar but larger house from the same book, Design A-22, was built in Berwick, PA. I recognized it when I was driving by on US Route 11 — it’s hard to miss a Matern house.

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