August 12, 2007
Recognize this house? Frankly, I would be surprised if you did given that this house was torn down in 1956. This house was known as the "Gates Castle" and could be located at 2501 East Lake of the Isles Boulevard in Minneapolis. According to the July 11, 1957 edition of the Star Tribune, the mansion had 40 bedrooms, gold doorknobs, parquet floors, and huge crystal chandeliers, all for the cost of $1 million. You can see more of this amazing residence through the Minnesota History Center Visual Resource Database.
What makes this mansion especially amazing, though, is that is was the first home in America to have air conditioning.
Built by Charles Gates in 1914 to entertain guests in "Italian Renaissance grandeur" the house also boasted an absolutely enormous "climate control unit" designed by Willis Carrier of Syracuse, NY. When completed, the first home air conditioner was almost 7 feet high, 6 feet wide, and 20 feet long, and it used ammonia as the coolant. And even more amazing (and probably luckily for the would-be residents of the home given the use of ammonia as the coolant), it is unknown if this air conditioner was ever used.
Before Charles Gates and his new bride were set to move into the mansion, Gates died. It is unknown how much his widow stayed in the mansion after his death, but in 1916 she remarried and moved east. The house was then sold to a man from St. Paul, but apparently he never lived there either. Again, the home was then demolished in 1956.
What a tragedy, heh? Like many people, though, I find it fascinating that a home in Minnesota, a state known mostly for its brutal winters, is the location for the first home air conditioning unit in the world. We do have some pretty hot and humid summers too, but the first home air conditioner? Here? You gotta admit that is somewhat unexpected.
Of course, today we take air conditioning and much of its history for granted. Personally I find the history and social ramifications of air conditioning fascinating. For example, air conditioning has drastically changed the culture of the South. Some argue that that the heat and humidity of the South gave the region some of its distinctive flair and unique architecture, but air conditioning has caused the South to be a more indoor culture. It has also made the region a more livable place for northerners to move in and bring their own cultural differences with them.
Some people also blame air conditioning for the rise of malls (going to indoor shopping areas rather than downtown), childhood obesity (kids play indoors way more today), the size of government (more comfortable office spaces has meant more "servants of the people"), or even the demise of trains and the rise of the automobile for long trips across the country. Could our reliance on foreign oil be pinned, in part, on the majestic air conditioner?
Personally, I think air conditioning has had a profound impact on a lot aspects of our lives, both good and bad, and that we haven't given this impact very much thought. If I was a smart person I would put together a book discussing the social ramifications of air conditioning. The stories, anecdotes, data, evidence ... it all seems to be there just waiting for someone to put it together in an accessible, entertaining, and thought provoking way.
Oh well. And thus ends another edition of "who gives a rat's butt theater."
Posted by snackeru at August 12, 2007 9:47 PM
That was a "cool" post Shane!
Writing a book about air conditioning would be a "breeze" for someone like you.
Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at August 13, 2007 11:24 AM
[Insert "full of hot air" joke here.]
I too am fascinated by air conditioning, and I believe the topic could make a surprisingly good book. Never knew about that mansion.
Personally, I refuse to use air conditioning at home, and I don't have any in my car (which makes for an interesting problem, since my nephew, who's used to car air conditioning, refuses to have any open windows while going at highway speeds). While good for specific purposes, and some public places, I don't think it's a good idea to get too attached to artificial conditions.
My girlfriend probably has the right idea -- she eventually wants to live in a mostly underground home, to take advantage of "nature's air conditioning." Such a design would be contrary to modern home architecture, I suppose.
Posted by: spycake at August 13, 2007 11:59 AM
I think if you find the right site, anything is possible. For example, the Seward neighborhood in Minneapolis (near the West Bank of the University) has a row of earth-sheltered town homes.
Posted by: Dave T at August 13, 2007 1:37 PM
Shane, come on, how are the anti-stadium people going to go on the attack if you don't talk about it in your posts?
"I'll tell you what won't have air conditioning...the new ballpark. How's that going to feel on these 98 degree August days?! I'll tell you what, I won't be going to games on those days, and, accordingly, I want the $1,000,000 in new sales tax that I've paid over the past year back. Oh yeah, and everything is the fault of the Demmycrats..."
Posted by: Dave MN at August 14, 2007 8:06 AM
The swell of civic pride I'm feeling, knowing that I can soon be sitting in a half billion dollar ball park is bringing a tear to my eye; No wait, I guess that was just gas. What does "civic pride" feel like again?
Posted by: Barry at August 14, 2007 10:05 AM
I think the reason Minnesota was the home of the first air conditioner is because we had the engineers smart enough to come up with it.
*ducks from the insults sure to be hurled by WI and Dakota folks*
And ammonia is still used in some commercial and industrial refrigeration applications. I think it gets a bad rap similar to hydrogen with the folks who don't really understand why the Hindenberg blew up...
Posted by: Snyder at August 14, 2007 5:04 PM
New pictures of the ballpark model are now on display on the Twins ballpark website
The main grandstand is nice....but the outfield seating is downright hideous...what the hell happened to left field???? The old schematic drawings resembed a pavillion like Metropolitan Stadium had and looked far better than this. And what is that triangular white thing in right-center? Did they just forget to put seats on it?
Someone who knows something, please fill me in???
Rick are you reading????
Posted by: kevin in az at August 15, 2007 9:02 PM
"New pictures of the ballpark model are now on display on the Twins ballpark website"
WHO THE HELL CARES???????????????????
OUR INFRASTRUCTURE IS COLLAPSING AND YOU 2 PERCENTERS ALONG WITH A BILLIONAIRE AND MILLION DOLLAR PLAYERS BRIBED OUR POLITICIANS INTO SPENDING TAXES ON A GOD DAMN STADIUM!!!!!!!!!!
Posted by: LOUIS at August 15, 2007 9:35 PM
Obviously you do since you check this site every 10 mins....BUGOFF
Posted by: kevin in az at August 15, 2007 9:51 PM
That looks an awful lot like the model they had at TwinsFest. Or maybe it was the one that was on display downtown earlier this spring/summer.
I'm not going to get too worked up about details but I saw on Rick's site that folks are talking about it, so I'd suggest anyone interested visit http://www.twinsballpark2010.com
Posted by: Snyder at August 16, 2007 8:34 AM
OH MY GOD, MY CAPS LOCK BUTTON IS BROKEN...
Posted by: Dave MN at August 16, 2007 9:26 AM
That model is clearly a work in progress. I wouldn't get too worked up about it.
Posted by: Alex B at August 16, 2007 8:22 PM
MONDAY IS THE BIG DAY!!
Posted by: Freealonzo at August 17, 2007 1:28 PM
The number is $37,000,000. Not as much as LPII wanted, but almost triple what HC offered. It doesn't matter. What's the difference between ugly and hideous?
Posted by: D-Big at August 17, 2007 1:34 PM
$37,000,000? For real? That seems a little high. Since I'm not aware of any "D-Big" involved in the hearings I guess we'll have to wait until Monday before we know for sure.
By the way, I have been given blueprints for the ballpark which show, among other things, outfield seating arrangements, the location of the scoreboard, and a big oval thing that I'm not sure what it is exactly. Of course, most of these blueprints are looking down, but they are still pretty interesting. I'll post soon.
Posted by: Shane at August 17, 2007 2:17 PM
The value has been established at $57,000,000.
I don't know who fed you the $37,000,000. It sounds to me like somebody wrote 3 for a 5.
$57,000,000. Unbelievable. That is the end of a 1st class stadium for Minnesota. We will end up with something needing replacement in 5 years.
God DANG Hennepin County idiots.
Posted by: baseball pro at August 18, 2007 10:17 AM
$57 million, huh? I'm sure 'Baseball pro' is a credible source. I heard from a 'reliable source' that is it actually $21 million. How do you like that?
OK, maybe I did, maybe I didn't. But if we're going to start throwing around baseless #'s, I might as well throw around a low one.
Posted by: David H. at August 18, 2007 4:42 PM
What a waste! Some people just dont care as long as they build and then they tend to leave it. If the family care for that house that would stay until now.
Posted by: rat trap at April 25, 2013 6:58 AM