The Ralph Sr. and Sunny Wilson House in Temple, Texas: The house that that launched America’s love affairs with laminates

The Wilson House

Visit-an-historic-house2.2During last week’s laminate ramblings, I stumbled on this incredible 1959 house in Texas – it’s the original home of the founder of Wilsonart laminates, and it’s now owned by the company, serving as their archives and a space for corporate events.

All photos: Courtesy Wilsonart – who were fabulous, very responsive! Thank you, Diana Z.!

Wilson House Temple Texas

The story of the Wilson House’s salvation is right out of a retro renovation suspense novel. 10 years ago, when there was little appreciation for this type of mid century modern design and certainly not for something as pedestrian as laminates, the company decided to sell the house. But, it needed to gut it first due to the “problem” interior. The house had been built as a showcase for the use of laminates – so the stuff is everywhere but the ceilings and floors. It’s truly incredible.

WIlson House

Then — someone brand new to the company is taken over to the house on the very day they are going to start demolition.  She has historical sensibility – and passion – and stands in front of the bulldozer. Well, there was no bulldozer. But she did stop the demo…convinced the company to keep the house…and went on to lead the restoration of what is now the youngest-ever National Historic Landmark.

Wilson house bathroom

Her name, by the way, is Grace Jeffers – and I will do more features on her soon. She is my new idol (along with Courtney and so many of you readers!) She has gone on to many other fabulous projects in the world of man-made materials.

Wilson House living room and kitchen

Holyoke Cindy was the first one to mention here that laminate kitchen cabinets are a great solution for our midmod kitchens – and she is absolutely positively right. Cindy’s kitchen is totally appropriate to her early 60s contemporary…and this Wilson kitchen, with its Mondrian influences, undeniably gorgeous, is further proof that laminates are a great and worth alternative for our retro renovations.

The Wilson House dining room

Thank you, Grace. You did a good thing.

The Wilson House pink bathroom

Click here for a history of the house on the Wilsonart website, and here to a New York Times story circa 1998 on the Wilson House – well worth it.

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

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