Ah, time can be so cruel. A few weeks ago, my trusty business partner and I were out doing our diligent Tuesday broker touring, when we (almost literally) stumbled across the medallion pictured below, which reads “Medallion Home – Live Better Electrically.” I’d never ever seen such a thing in San Francisco (or anywhere else for that matter), so my curiousity was piqued, and I snapped a picture with a mental note to someday do a little research.
It turns out that the medallion was the award for builders who built an “all electric” home during the 1950’s and 1960’s. From the greenspun website:
In the 1950s, when the all electric home-building campaign was launched, the process of making electricity was not as efficient as it is today. The utilities rushed to build electrical plants to streamline production, and as the cost of electricity decreased, homeowners were encouraged to consume more power. The more they used, the less they paid.
To keep demand high, the electrical industry launched the Live Better Electrically, or LBE, campaign in March 1956. It was supported nationwide by 300 electric utilities and 180 electrical manufacturers.
The campaign got then-actor Ronald Reagan, the popular host of “General Electric Theater,” to take his television audience on a series of tours of his and wife Nancy’s all-electric Pacific Palisades home.
An in-house GE sales pitch declared that “by Thanksgiving, there should not be a man, woman or child in America who doesn’t know that you can ‘Live Better Electrically’ with General Electric appliances and television.”
In October 1957, LBE launched the “Medallion Homes” campaign, which sought to sell 20,000 all-electric homes nationwide by 1958, 100,000 by 1960 and 970,000 by 1970.
To earn a gold medallion–a decal affixed to a home’s entryway and considered the apex of modern, all-electric living–a home had to have an electric clothes washer and dryer, waste disposal, refrigerator and all-electric heating.
Anyone care to guess what San Francisco neighborhood Britton and I were touring in when we came across this fascinating little nugget of history?