Some of us may have heard of Ronald Reagan. He was not only President of the United States, but also before a downgrade in working positions, he did some acting in Hollywood and also as a spokesperson for some commercial interests. One of those spokesperson jobs included General Electric. In fact, Reagan hosted General Electric Theater, an anthology of programs for radio and television. He contracted with General Electric in 1954.
He bought land in the Pacific Palisades area of the Los Angeles in 1956. In 1957 General Electric saw an opportunity, with their national spokesperson building a new home in the modern style, to install all sorts of state of the art gadgets that saved on energy and provided modern efficiencies. After completing the residence, GE featured Ronald and Nancy Reagan in commercials and advertisements. The house is also referred to as the “Home of the Future”. Some of the advancements in residential lighting included dimmer switches and recessed lighting.
The General Electric Showcase House was the design of William R. Stephenson (1912-2007) in 1956 and encompasses 4,764 square feet. Modernist in the American Style, the GE House used many of the popular materials of the time including rough stone and walls of glass and gabled roofs.
According to the October 26, 2007 Los Angeles Times:
In a career spanning five decades in Southern California, Stephenson designed homes for a number of Hollywood’s leading figures of the 1950s, including director King Vidor; actress Laraine Day; dancer Cyd Charisse and her singer husband, Tony Martin; and singer Jo Stafford and her arranger/composer husband, Paul Weston, according to Stephenson’s family.
But his most famous clients were the Reagans. He designed their home in 1956, when the future California governor was a television star. In 1957, Stephenson told The Times that the residence was “not classified in my mind as Modern ranch house, [but] the style does indicate informality and country living and radiates a friendliness that one also feels from the owners.”
He had formal training in architecture at the University of Virginia where he graduated in 1934. He actually became a dance instructor at Arthur Murray and moved into teaching in Hawaii and Los Angeles. At the time of World War II, he worked as a structural engineer, eventually gaining his architecture license in 1946. He practiced architecture under Frank Lloyd Wright until he opened his own practice during the early 1950s.
Images of “The Home of the Future”:
Reagan in the Study.
(These videos are very interesting since we take certain things for granted these days.)