A World's Fair House in Sheboygan?


A World's Fair House in Sheboygan?

Bill Young

You're kidding! How could a World's Fair fanatic like me live in this city for over a decade and not have known about this? Yet, there it was … staring me in the face … the Gospel truth in Formica's commemorative book from the Fair saluting "The World's Fair House." According to the book, Richard Ballschmider had built a Formica World's Fair House in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and had decorated it with the latest in contemporary furnishings from the H. C. Prange Company of Sheboygan.

So, where was it? Every time I passed a sixties-ish looking home that seemed to match the exterior design shown in the book I wondered, "Is that the Formica House?" I finally discovered it quite by accident when, in a passing conversation with a neighbor, I leaned that she was a neighborhood playmate of Dick Ballschmider's daughter in the sixties! When I mentioned his connection to "the house" she said, "Oh. You mean the World's Fair House? It's on the corner of 6th and Columbus." All that time spent wondering and here the Sheboygan version of the World's Fair House was only six blocks away from my home! "It's a Small World After All!"

My friend and fellow Fair enthusiast, Gary Holmes, ventured with me the few blocks north in the late summer of 2002 and stopped by the Formica World's Fair House of Sheboygan to meet the owners. They were in the process of moving, but very graciously invited us in to take a look at the house. Yes, they were aware that the house was the "World's Fair House" and, much to our surprise, asked if we'd like to take a look at the blueprints. They had survived all these years and were being passed on to the new owners! Sure enough. There, in the bottom right hand corner was the Formica logo and the legend "Formica World's Fair House."

So how does a Formica World's Fair House look today, after nearly 40 years of habitation? Well, the Sheboygan version has very little Formica! The house had definitely been "updated" over the years and, although it still had a sixties "flavor" to it, it was certainly not as colorful as the version Bradd Schiffman has treated you to in this Feature. We didn't take any pictures of the interior, but below are exterior shots of the house. The floorplan is quite different from those pictured in Formica's commemorative book. It would appear that there were many varieties of this home. The book says, "Regional adaptations of the same design have now been built on more than 150 different sites throughout the U.S.A. as practical homes available for sale to the public." Perhaps this design is what was adapted for the upper Midwest.


Sheboygan, Wisconsin's World's Fair House circa August, 2002
Sheboygan World's Fair House

Today, the World's Fair House resembles any number of Ranch Home styles of construction that were popular during the 1960s. Richard Ballschmider, the contractor for the home, was a Sheboygan area home builder. Mr. Ballschmider is now deceased.
Sheboygan World's Fair House

The "cache" of World's Fair House is not what sells this home. In fact, its location is only one lot from the Lake Michigan shoreline, high on a bluff overlooking the Lake, with a spectacular view. THAT is what makes this home so special today in Sheboygan!
Sheboygan World's Fair House

The back yard of Sheboygan's World's Fair House. Notice the skylights? The back of the house actually resembles the floorplan described in the commemorative book more so than the front!
Sheboygan World's Fair House


How About a World's Fair House in Oklahoma City?
Roy L. Thomas believes this is a Formica World's Fair House located in the Oklahoma City suburb of Lakehurst! Roy reports, "I've had the 1964 Good Housekeeping magazine since I was around 13 and I was always fascinated with the WFH from then on. I grew up in Arkansas but ended up in Oklahoma City. I noticed the subdivision listings in the back of the GH magazine and one of them was Lakehurst. I just did a county search on the county website and voila!"

Roy enclosed a floorplan comparison from house listed in the county website (they took out the angle of the garage). The house is in the Cape Cod style.

Lakehurst, Oklahoma World's Fair House!
Source: © 2007 Roy L. Thomas - All Rights Reserved
Lakehurst, OK World's Fair House?

Left: Formica Floorplan Right: Lakehurst, OK Floorplan
Formica Floorplan  Lakehurst Floorplan 


And a World's Fair House in Janesville, Wisconsin!
John & Sue McGinniss write: This is the house in Janesville that was built as one of the model homes for the Formica Company for the '64 Worlds Fair in New York. It was built by Charles Sanford, who now actually lives around the corner. It does still have the original Formica window sills, but we did upgrade our kitchen counter tops about 20 years ago. The four pictures we have sent are of the front, the back, the area around the front door (though it is very dark) and the last one is a picture that we framed that was in the Better Homes and Gardens magazine from 1964 that did a feature on the Worlds Fair home.

Janesville Formica House

Janesville Formica House

Janesville Formica House

Janesville Formica House

 

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