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Frances Gabe

Frances Gabe
Frances Grace Arnholtz

(1915-06-23)June 23, 1915
Idaho, U.S.
DiedDecember 26, 2016(2016-12-26) (aged 101)
Oregon, U.S.
Notable work
Self-Cleaning House

Frances Gabe (June 23, 1915 – December 26, 2016) was an American artist and inventor perhaps most well known for designing and building the Self-Cleaning House in Newberg, Oregon.[1] She built her own model for $15,000 and it was estimated to go on the market in 1984 for about $50,000.[2] She gained international notoriety in the 1980s for the self-cleaning house.[3]


Born in 1915 as Frances Grace Arnholtz on a ranch near Boise, Idaho,[4] she was a self-proclaimed "unusual" person. She spent much of her time alone with her building contractor father, Frederick, and would accompany him on jobs. It wasn't until after her divorce from Herbert Grant Bateson that she changed her surname to Gabe. The actual self-cleaning house was granted a patent from the U.S. government, along with 25 additional patents for individual inventions unique to the house totaling to 68 patents.[5] Her psychiatrist once remarked, "You're many times over a genius. The world belongs to you, and don't let anyone tell you anything different."[6] She was once ridiculed for her invention but architects and builders now agree about it being "functional and attractive".[7] The Self-Cleaning House fascinated Harvard University researchers and humorist Erma Bombeck who said she should be added to Mount Rushmore[5] while Fred Amran, the professor of creativity at University of Minnesota, called her patent "incredibly complex, the longest I've ever read" and the Self-Cleaning House appeared on Ripley's Believe It or Not!. The house was also displayed in 2002 and 2003 at The Women's Museum in Dallas, Texas where it was a popular exhibit.[8] She and the house were also featured in People magazine in 1982,She was also featured in The New York Times’ Home & Garden section in 2002,[9] and the house was also featured in The Guardian and The New York Times, as well as on Phil Donahue’s talk show and in several books, including Chuck Palahniuk’s Fugitives & Refugees (2003).[10][11]

She died on December 26, 2016 at the age of 101.[12]


  1. ^ Autumn Stanley (1995). Mothers and Daughters of Invention: Notes for a Revised History of Technology. Rutgers University Press. pp. 374–5. ISBN 978-0-8135-2197-8. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  2. ^ Stanley, Autumn (1995). Mothers and Daughters of Invention: Notes for a Revised History of Technology. Rutgers University Press. p. 374. ISBN 0813521971. Retrieved August 6, 2015.
  3. ^ Sabatier, Julie. "Remembering Frances Gabe, Oregon Inventor Of The Self-Cleaning House". Retrieved 2018-07-24.
  4. ^ Charles W. Carey (2009). American Inventors, Entrepreneurs, and Business Visionaries. Infobase Publishing. pp. 139–40. ISBN 978-0-8160-6883-8. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Frances Gabe Heard Our Plea". The Victoria Advocate. January 19, 1982. Retrieved August 6, 2015.
  6. ^ Palahniuk, Chuck. Fugitives and Refugees. 29-33. 2003, Crown Publishers, New York, New York.
  7. ^ Wajcman, Judy (1991). Feminism Confronts Technology. Penn State University Press. p. 102. ISBN 0271008024. Retrieved August 6, 2015. Frances GABe artist.
  8. ^ "Modern marvel: The self-cleaning house". The New York Times. February 2, 2002. Retrieved August 6, 2015.
  9. ^ "Everything you need to read about Frances Gabe, self-cleaning house inventor". Curbed. Retrieved 2018-07-24.
  10. ^ "Frances Gabe's Self-Cleaning House Could Mean New Rights of Spring for Housewives". March 29, 1982. Retrieved August 6, 2015.
  11. ^ By MARGALIT FOXJULY 18, 2017. "Frances Gabe, Creator of the Only Self-Cleaning Home, Dies at 101 - The New York Times". Retrieved 2017-07-20.
  12. ^ "Frances Gabe, Inventor of the Self-Cleaning House, Dies at 101". The New York Times. July 18, 2017. Retrieved July 18, 2017.

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