Donaldson Futuro

Looks like a yellow flying saucer landed in a snowy wooded area
Donaldson Futuro

Photo by Paul Kozal, courtesy of California State Historic Preservation Office

Quick Facts
Idyllwild, California
Social History, Architecture
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places - ref# 100005994
The Donaldson Futuro  is located In the San Jacinto mountains near Idyllwild. It is a structural reinforced fiberglass polyester plastic portable home, meant to be easily moved to a desired site, usually by helicopter. Noted for its ellipsoid shaped shell which characterizes its spaceage Futuristic architectural style, the residence measures 26’4” (8m) in diameter, 13’2” (4m) high with a total floor area of 520 square feet (48.5 square meters), and weighs approximately 11,900 pounds (5,500kg). Following extensive exterior and interior restoration, the resource is in excellent condition retaining its integrity of design, workmanship, materials, setting, feeling, and association to its 1969 period of significance. In recognition of owner Milford Wayne Donaldson’s restoration effort and resulting preservation of this fragile resource, essential to saving the building and raising the profile of the entire family of similar buildings, the property is identified as the Donaldson Futuro.  

The Donaldson Futuro is an example of America’s collective confidence as a leader in space flight, technology advancement, and economic prosperity. The property is also the first serially produced plastic house in California and the U.S. and the first all structural glass-reinforced polyester house in California, which became a notable icon in California space-age architecture. It is the first Futuro to arrive in California, the only one in the state until 2015, and the only Futuro in California to have obtained a building permit for residential occupancy, following the extensive restoration of this fragile and rare property type.  Its locale within the San Jacinto Mountains is reminiscent of the mountainous setting and general environment comparable to Finnish architect Matti Suuronen’s original design intent. The period of significance is 1969, the year the Futuro was fabricated and shipped to California from Futuro Enterprises in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 


Last updated: April 16, 2021