The Story Behind Home Elevators

The elevator as we know it has changed dramatically since humans first realized they could move large and heavy objects with rope and pulley systems. Home elevators are a byproduct of that ingenuity, created to make it easier for those with disabilities or injuries to get around their homes more easily. The story behind the home elevator is an interesting one, and it speaks to why home elevators have become so valuable to us.

The Inclin-ator: An idea on the rise

In 1923, while he was visiting a convalescing neighbor, C.C. Crispen—owner of C.C. Crispen Motor Car Company—was struck with an idea. Crispen conceived of a seat that could travel up and down the stairs for those like his neighbor who were bedridden and confined to a different floor of their home. It took the self-taught mechanical engineer only days to formalize the idea and begin the necessary U.S. patent procedures.

The finished product was a folding wooden chair and footrest combination that could be moved along rollers to travel up and down the stairs, on a steel rail. It was also designed to run on the house’s electricity. Part of the idea was to create a way to conveniently convey a person up and down the stairs while designing it narrow enough that someone could still take the stairs by foot. C.C. Crispen called his machine the “Inclin-ator,” which he felt conveyed the idea of an elevator working on an incline of stairs.

A year later, Crispen was invited to display his Inclin-ator at the Philadelphia Electric Company’s showroom, which helped turn his idea into a brand new enterprise. Not long after, an Inclin-ator was installed in Westinghouse Electric’s “Electric Home” on Atlantic City’s boardwalk as a testament to the lift’s uniqueness.

The Elevette: The first in-home elevator

Building on his original idea, C.C. Crispen came up with an alternative in 1928 for homes that had winding staircases. This new invention became the Elevette®, and it was the first residential, electric elevator, designed for homes with unconventional staircases. Soon, home elevators and chair lifts became more common as other manufacturers raced to find their own corner of the residential elevator market.

The home elevator of today

Although many individuals have built upon the ancient technology of ropes and pulleys and hoists, the story behind the home elevator is really the story behind Inclinator. Before its inception, C.C. Crispen simply wanted a way to help his neighbor; and it was that passion for caring for others, and the need to improve their quality of life that’s allowed his Company to flourish. As home elevators grow increasingly common and modernized, they’ve become sensible investments for those who require a wheelchair or the aid of a walker to get around.

The goal for Inclinator Company of America, as well as home elevators in general, has always been to keep people in the homes they love, surrounded by memories and their loved ones, despite infirmity or injury. In a time where many seniors feel forced to enter retirement communities or nursing homes, a home elevator can be a life changer.

Caring for others is what started Inclinator, and it continues to be a guiding principal 90 years after the Company was founded. It’s our belief that ingenuity, efficient design, and quality craftsmanship are integral to designing and marketing home elevators as economical and convenient investments. This is the story our products tell, and the standards to which we hold ourselves as a company and manufacturer of home elevators, vertical platform lifts, and more.