Mothers of Invention: Frances GABe – Owner of U.S. Patent No. 4,428,085 (Self-Cleaning House)

FranceGabeHomeShe was born Frances Grace Arnholtz in Boise, Idaho in 1915.  She adored her father, Frederick Arnholtz, a building contractor and architect, tagging along with him on his job sites from the time she was three years old.  Her mother (name unknown) died when Frances was young and her father had jobs all over the Pacific Northwest, so her “family” was the construction workers who taught her all she would ever need to know about building her “dream house” someday.

She attended eighteen different grade schools and at age twelve she was enrolled in the Girl’s Polytechnic School in Portland, Oregon.  In two years she completed her high school education, graduating in 1929 at age fourteen.  In 1932, at the age of seventeen, she married Herbert Bateson who was an electrical engineer – at least by training.  For some reason, Bert never seemed to work very much or just had odd jobs here and there, so Frances was forced to work to support their family (they had at least two children).

FrancesGabe

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11 Comments

  1. I would have her invent a bathroom cleaner – take out the trash. Love it!

    Reply
    • I hear that — trash duty ain’t my favorite!

      Reply
  2. Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your post seem to be running off the screen in Ie. I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with web browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know. The design look great though! Hope you get the issue fixed soon. Kudos

    Reply
    • Sorry about that .. not sure what happened. I’ve never noticed any web browser compatibility issues. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  3. Wow, wonderful blog layout! How lengthy have you ever been running a blog for? you made blogging glance easy. The whole look of your web site is great, as well as the content!

    Reply
  4. It’s fantastic know that a self-cleaning house is real! Very nice post! Very enlightening!

    Reply
    • Thank you very much for stopping by!

      Reply
  5. I live in Newberg and I knew Frances Gabe for many years and spent a lot of time with her in her “self-cleaning” house and was always amazed at the constant media coverage because basically the house was a concrete block structure with lawn sprinklers on the ceiling, a sloped floor and a giant blow dryer. I argued with her that the only place this system would work would be in restrooms because in a house you couldn’t have musical instruments, or antiques, or fine furniture, or any wooden furniture for that matter, unless it was encased in plastic, because everything would get wet, and moldy, As far as I know she never operated the sprinklers either. Most of her interviews were phone interviews by reporters who read about the house in other articles and actually never saw it, and the stories just kept going. I wasn’t aware that she ever got patents on any of her inventions. I know she applied for several but never came up with the funds to pay the search and patent fees. It was all pretty crazy.

    Reply
    • It sounded crazy — could just have well put this under the “Far-Out Friday” category as well. This article has been one of the most popular ones here at Digging History, however — go figure. Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

      Reply
    • A prophet has no honor among his people. 🙂 She was ahead of her time. And in today’s world of rot resistant furniture, there’s no reason it couldn’t work. I saw her video on youtube. Fascinating. And she did get a patent. She’s a legend among architecture students and feminist the world over.

      Reply
      • Yes, I found the patent record so that’s unquestionable. Way ahead of her time … thanks for stopping by!

        Reply

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