Saturday, July 18, 2015
Johnson County Museum and 1950's All Electric House - July 16, 2015
Our retirement club, KCPL Power Partners, toured the Johnson County Kansas Museum of History including the 1950's All Electric House on July 16, 2015.
The museum is in an old Kansas prairie stone school house. The interior is a stark contrast to the old exterior. The exhibits are very professionally displayed in a modern, spacious, and well lit way. Of course, nothing is really that old in the museum since Kansas isn't that old relatively speaking. I guess they could have thrown in a few dinosaur bones for an "old touch" but they didn't. The museum is oriented towards people and the way they lived in the area since development began in the 1800's.
The 1950's All Electric House exhibit is an actual show home that was built by Kansas City Power & Light and General Electric back in 1954 to demonstrate the possibilities of electrical technology in everyday living. In its first year open to the public, the house had 60,000 visitors which was the total population of Johnson County Kansas at the time.
This is the last year for the museum and house in it's present location. The County has already purchased an old bowling building with enough space to locate the house inside and all the existing exhibits plus much more that is currently in storage.
The 1950's All Electric House. It has been restored to as close to original as possible.
Members of our group check in.
They take no more than 10 people in a group to tour the house due to the size of the rooms.
The only disturbing thing about touring the museum is that I recognize most of the things on display and grew up using them or at least helping my parents use them. I remember falling to sleep listening to music on a transistor radio just like the one on display. If I identify so much with everything in the museum, does that mean that I belong there too?
We debated whether the floor tiles in the kitchen and bathroom were original asbestos tiles.
Green was the "in" color back in the 1950's.
This room was set up as an office or sitting room but in reality, it would have been the second bedroom in the home.
The Master Bedroom. A switch on the wall allowed you to turn on the coffee maker in the kitchen when you first woke up.
The make up desk mirror had two light color settings.....one for daylight and one for evening so your makeup would be perfect.
The drapes were motorized of course.
The fireplace was electric as you would expect. The TV is actually behind the painting on the mantel. When you turn it on, the painting moves out of the way like a pocket door to reveal the screen.
How about an electric clothes presser and a freezer?....every home has to have them.
An electric clothes washer.
A four burner stove with griddle, blender, and dishwasher.
On the other side of the kitchen, there is a refrigerator and a double oven. Notice the lack of microwave which wasn't commercialized at the time of the building.
We take all this for granted today but this was revolutionary stuff back in 1954.
Here is one thing that is not original. The KCPL people had to go high tech with a ground source heat pump in the house.
Garage door openers were rare back in the day. Look at the hefty hand crank to manually open the door.
Nothing like metal chairs and table to relax on the patio...just make sure they aren't too hot before you sit down.
After the house, we continued our visit to the museum. This bell once rang from the tower of a Lenexa church.
Carpenter tools. I would hate to have to carry around this box.
My mother used an old treadle sewing machine like this for years. When I was young, I would lay on the floor and move the treadle with my hands so she could sew and not get tired feet.
I used a typewriter just like this from high school through college for all my papers. We had an Underwood but it looked the same. It wasn't that there weren't more modern typewriters at the time, you just have to use what you have and can afford.
This 1956 Chevrolet Bel-Air is a beauty.
After the tour, we all gathered at Johnny's Tavern for lunch.
It is great having a group of people to enjoy so many events with and stay active in retirement.