Video: The Wilson House — shrine to mid century laminate


Visit-an-historic-house2.2I’ve written before about the Ralph Sr. and Sunny Wilson House in Temple, Texas — an amazing showcase of the innovative use of laminate that was built by the head of Wilsonart in the 1950s. The Wilson House is the the first and only home that has ever been named to the National Register of Historic Places specifically because of its innovative use of materials. How ironic, that with the mainstream masses all gaga about granite, our little community is equally crazy about our laminates. Watch this video — historian Grace Jeffers takes us on a tour, and explains the important context for the use. It’s wonderful — and I assure you, you will be lovin’ your laminate more than ever.

Read all our stories about historic mid century homes you can visit here.

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Comments

  1. Gavin Hastings says

    Amazing.
    What I find most interesting is that the owner was head of a national corporation, yet his home was very modest – even for the time. Artful, yet pretty simple.

  2. Kirsten says

    Fantastic. I live just a short drive from Temple, and would love to visit it. My good friend is from Temple, and her father worked for Wilsonart for many, many years. I am passing along the link. Thanks for posting this.

  3. says

    Good gravy, that’s a cool place. Interestingly, we painted the doors of some CD cabinets I built in a similar blue and yellow like those kitchen cabinets.

  4. Kersten says

    AH! Grace Jeffers is my hero! Gawd! Can you imagine if this would have been destroyed?! I shutter!
    I would be, oh so happy, to work in that kitchen each day! Gives me additional inspiration and ideas for our future kitchen redo. Now I want to go there!

  5. linda blackmore says

    This is an amazing house. Thanks so much for sharing it. The mention of granite–I would NEVER use granite. I don’t like the look, and I never like to use what “everybody” is doing. The only thing I’d like for counter tops besides laminate would be concrete. I love it’s look, too. However, laminate would always be my first pick for mid-century.

  6. says

    As I sit in my kitchen, surrounded by 1970s butcher-block laminate, I am dreaming of recovering every surface with gorgeous colors like that kitchen. Oh, to have glitter-flecked countertops! And diamond shapes on the walls! Turquoise! Yellow! Orange! Sigh…….

    Thanks for sharing this Pam. I remember your original post on this house, and I thought it was fantastic then. It’s great to hear the story and meet the wonderful lady who saved this gem.

  7. says

    I loved the kitchen, thank you so much. I do have a Q tho.

    I’ve read a lot on your blog about Time capsual homes but what are they? How do you find them?

    Thank you again.

  8. Magnarama says

    So glad you reposted this, Pam. I never tire of seeing this wonderful house.

    I have a non-laminate question, though: I own a complete set of that turquoise and black cookware featured sitting on the stovetop, eight pans with lids that I collected piece by piece over 12 years. It’s enamel-coated steel, with squiggly graffiti-like decoration in white lines over the enamel. They have no maker marks, and I’ve never in all these years been able to find out a thing about its manufacturer or history, nor seen a piece with a label on it for I.D. purposes. I have a permanent search set up on eBay so I can check every piece that shows up, in case anyone ever lists a piece that still has its label, but so far no dice.

    If anyone knows anything about the history of this cookware, I would really love to hear about it.

    • pam kueber says

      I’ll take a closer look at the video, then keep an eye out…. Your cookware is not catherineholm (sp?) is it?

      • magnarama says

        No, Pam, definitely not Catherineholm, I’m familiar with those. But the process is the same — enamel over steel. And like Catherineholm, it wasn’t particularly well-made, so found pieces often have edge chips in the enamel.

        I’m inclined to think it was American-made but have no proof of that. Also I think it came in sets, as you usually see the two-handled pots in turquoise, the skillets in pink and yellow. (All have black lids.) But I also have a stovetop percolator and a covered turkey roaster, both in turquoise, and a covered paella pan in black.

        Here’s a piece currently for sale on eBay, a pink skillet:

        http://tinyurl.com/4j9d52s

  9. Jerry says

    This was so Da Voom, I love it however I don’t understand why Wilsonart doesn’t continue to make some of those great retro laminates with the sparkles and such.
    My Grandmother and Aunt’s kitchens had these laminate countertops that looked like paint speckles all over, they were really neat.

  10. says

    We live about 30 minutes South of Temple and have taken a tour of the house. It is very cool. Temple actually has a pretty good represnetation of MCM houses, apartments and commercial buildings.

    After we bought out ’62 ranch (see web site link) we took the kitchen back from the previous owner “updating” to sell. The laminate we used is orange Wilsonart. Cool Stuff.

    Oh….we bought the house from the original owners that also owned the local Piggly Wiggly in town. The house is all original with the exception of having to “fix” the kitchen.

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