Thomas Edison’s
Concrete House

Although ultimately a failure, Edison's 1908 system of concrete construction is this country's best known early example of the mass-produced concrete house. His system involved the use of elaborate forms and machinery for pouring a one, two, or even three-story house in a single operation, and offered concrete built-ins such as a bathtub. Sectional cast iron forms bolted together were to be assembled on the foundation walls to the height of the house, ending in a centrally located funnel into which the concrete was poured.

The idea proved extremely difficult in practice. The fact that Edison's single-mold, single-pour concrete houses were built at all was because Charles Ingersoll, a wealthy New Jersey manufacturer, combined his desire to build affordable housing with the idea of making the forms out of wood, rather than cast iron. He began construction in 1917 in Union, New Jersey. Fewer than 100 were constructed; many are still standing and inhabited.