Wisconsin Historical Society

National or State Registers Record

857 S. Shore Dr.

National or State Register of Historic Places
857 S. Shore Dr. | National or State Registers Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Eggiman, Ernest, House
Reference Number:94000599
Location (Address):857 S. Shore Dr.
Ernest and Helen Eggiman House
857 South Shore Drive, Madison, Dane County
Date of construction: 1936
Architect: McLaughlin, Robert Jr.

The Eggiman House is Wisconsin's only Motohome, a prefabricated house marketed and sold by American Houses, Inc. Constructed in as little as two weeks, the Motohome was intended to answer a housing crisis created by the Great Depression. The Motohome was 1930s high tech, featuring a steel frame, aluminum foil insulation, a highly advanced flooring system, pre-stamped electrical outlets, and interior and exterior wall materials with incorporated color. The 4' x 8' asbestos concrete wall modules could be arranged to create over 140 different floor plans ranging in cost from $3,500 to $7,200. The house combined two ideal elements: affordability and design variation.

In keeping with its futuristic construction, the home was designed in the trendy International Style. The main portion of the house is a two-story cubic block covered by a flat roof, with a smaller one-story block attached to a rear corner. The unadorned fa├žade and horizontally banded windows are characteristic of the International Style. The only decoration comes from the natural lines produced from the joints of the wall panels, and the complex arrangement of the windows.

The interior of the Motohome was just as advanced as the exterior. The moto-unit, a centralized system that controlled plumbing, heat and electricity, was the "heart" of every house. Thought the height of industrial efficiency, the moto-unit required maintenance by a specialized repairman and was subsequently removed from the Eggiman House. Other uncommon features standard in the Motohome included central air conditioning, a dishwasher, steel kitchen cabinets, built-in radio clock, and a bevy of appliances including a toaster, percolator, iron, clothes washer, and bathroom scale. To advertise its rapid construction and move-in appeal, the Motohome came complete with a library of how-to books on gardening, cooking, decorating, and childcare, in addition to a week's worth of groceries.

Despite its low cost, superlative technology, and wide range of amenities, the Motohome never achieved mass-market appeal. It is estimated that only 100-150 Motohomes were built. In the end, the home's reliance on the imagery of the International Style proved too radical a departure from conventional construction and aesthetics.

The Eggiman House is privately owned. Please respect the privacy of its owners.

Period of Significance:1925-1949
Area of Significance:Architecture
Area of Significance:Engineering
Area of Significance:Industry
Applicable Criteria:Event
Applicable Criteria:Architecture/Engineering
Historic Use:Domestic: Single Dwelling
Architectural Style:International Style
Resource Type:Building
Architect:McLaughlin, Robert Jr.
Historic Status:Listed in the National Register
Historic Status:Listed in the State Register
National Register Listing Date:06/17/1994
State Register Listing Date:01/21/1994
Number of Contributing Buildings:1
Number of Contributing Sites:0
Number of Contributing Structures:0
Number of Contributing Objects:0
Number of Non-Contributing Sites:0
Number of Non-Contributing Structures:0
Number of Non-Contributing Objects:0
National Register and State Register of Historic Places, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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