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A Model House Scientifically Designed and Managed: "America's Little House"


“America’s Little House” was a model house built by the organizers of the Better Homes in America campaign in 1934. Constructed at the intersection of 39th Street and Park Avenue in Manhattan, this single-family Period house appeared wildly out of place when viewed alongside neighboring skyscrapers. Intending to promote the virtues of homeownership and improvement, the Better Homes movement allied with the federal government to organize demonstration houses in cities across the country. One of their primary goals was to communicate the benefits of scientifically managed households. “America’s Little House” was an urban spectacle that showcased new and improved methods of performing household labor based on Frederick Taylor’s philosophy of scientific management. This paper will examine the ways in which “America’s Little House” was a testing ground for a new symbolic language that combined scientific objectivity and physical productivity to define the “modern” woman and her house.

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