The 1950 House at the Shelburne Museum: Historic Mid Century Homes to Visit

First in a series of posts spotlighting mid-century house museums
“The 1950 House” is a complete, original mid century home moved onto grounds of the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont, and now open to the public.  Frank and Helen LaFlume, the original owners, included the latest technology when building their new, 1000 sq. ft. home in 1949. Like millions of other couples after World War II, they were final able to purchase a home — and buying this prefabricated model was easier than bringing construction materials to their 200 acre farm and building from scratch. They chose a ranch style house, with an attached garage for their 1939 Chevrolet — which is also part of the exhibit.
The LaFlume’s home featured central heating and air conditioning, modern bathroom and kitchen appliances, and many clever built ins. Check out their amazing yellow kitchen. Those countertops with the full 18″ yellow laminate backsplash are definitely an eyeful. I’m really loving the diagonal shelves — the angle of the camera gives it a very Alice in Wonderland feel.  The bunk beds (above) look very clean and crisp. Notice the little lamp for the child in the the top bunk… and the chalkboard is also great. The LaFlume’s house has white siding — iconic 50’s style. The 1950 House opened at the Shelburne Museum as special millennium exhibit in 2000.
The Shelburne Museum has an amazing 39 buildings (not counting the boat), and two historic houses from the 18th and 19th century. You could easily spend a day, heck a whole week, at this place. Special thanks to Julie at the museum who gave us access to their images.

  1. Robin, NV says:

    How sad. Why on earth would they tear it down?!

    The Clark County Museum in Las Vegas has several houses they maintain as part of their exhibit. I believe one from each of the first 5 decades of the 20th century. I’m not sure if they’re genuine time capsules but they’re decorated appropriately for each decade. Unfortunately, their website doesn’t include very many photos. I was there several years ago and was amazed and charmed by each of them. The temporary housing used for war workers was one of my favorites. Perhaps I will have to drive down there (only 400 miles from where I live!) and take lots of photos for RR.

  2. Jeff says:

    As of May 4, 2012, The 50s house was torn down to make room for a new exhibit. At this time, I don’t know if anything was salvaged before it was destroyed.

    1. Jeff says:

      This post is to mention of my last post. This was the 50s house at Shelburne Museumin Shelburne, Vt

      1. Elizabeth says:

        Jeff, I thought you were a troll, however, I just checked the Shelburne Museum website, and yes, the 1950s house is gone! I am seriously upset. This was my favourite exhibit, too. They should have taken down that ridiculous container house if they had to sacrifice something. The 1950s house was a perfect time capsule of an important time in history and a beautiful look into Vermont, and America’s recent past. I lvoed going through it and feeling part of it. It was wonderful and transcendent. I am deeply grieved.

  3. Isabelle says:

    Hi – One that I know of in the Chicago area is the Rolling Meadow historical museum: http://www.ci.rolling-meadows.il.us/HTML/historical_museum.htm. Rolling Meadows has gobs of extremely tiny, no-basement ranch houses, and this was built to showcase one of them (notice that it was purpose-built and not a recreation).

    I’ve been meaning to get here so if you’re interested I’d be happy to take a look and provide photos and commentary!

    1. pam kueber says:

      Hi, Isabelle – I’d love it if you’d go visit and take pics and send in a full report! Many thanks, Pam

  4. MbS says:

    Love the angle-exposion cabinents….had some, in metal, in a garage long ago. Wonder if they were re-purposed from a gutted kitchen.

    Like seeing the dark wood trim. This is common in some 40s-50s houses. Mine is darker and sometimes I imagine painting it….but I don’t. I will invoke this museum house and do my part!

  5. Deb says:

    The 1950 House is a real treasure and my favorite part of the Shelburne Museum. I live nearby and have been to the musuem many, many times. I always save the 1950 House for last. There is so much more there than is shown in these pictures. A lot of the house is interactive. You can snoop in the cupboards and refrigerator and play with the toys in the kids’ rooms. There are even clothes in the closets and dressers. I also love how people coming into the house get nostalgic about things they recognize from their childhoods. The whole museum is a wonderful place to visit. It’s worth the trip.

    1. matthew kinkead says:

      How did you know I already had it on the list?! We can’t wait for the museum of suburbia.

  6. Kate says:

    Thanks for the post, it’s great to see these being saved, much like the many early American museums, like Old Sturbridge Village.

    There is a great 1950’s all-electric house in the Kansas City suburb of Prairie Village that is part of the Johnson County Museum. My mother grew up there and it was quintessential 1950’s neighborhood, at the height of MCM design. It was built by the electric company in 1954 as a model home.


  7. Amy Hill says:

    Too cool. My Aunt Mary had the red linen formica in her kitchen. My mom had the pink boomerang formica.

    I have been toying with the idea of purchasing a vintage fridge for my kitchen but they don’t have much freezer space and you have to manually defrost them. The scale would be so great for my little galley kitchen. New refrigerators function better but take up lots of floor space. 28″ wide x 30″ deep max is all the space will hold.

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