Space Ship House - Signal Mountain, TN
N 35° 06.364 W 085° 20.896
16S E 650535 N 3886053
Quick Description: This unique home is located just off U.S. Highway 127 in Hamilton County, TN.
Location: Tennessee, United States
Date Posted: 9/12/2007 4:12:49 PM
Waymark Code: WM26GZ
The famous "Space Ship House", sometimes called the "Flying Saucer House" or "UFO House" is known by all who have traveled U.S. Highway 127. It is located in a switchback curve in the road and can easily be seen from several angles.
This unique home is currently for sale.
An article in the Chattanooga Times Free Press follows:
Landmark Space House on the side of Signal Mountain is for sale
Sunday, February 04, 2007
By Jason M. Reynolds
The Space House, one of Chattanooga's best known residences, can be yours for $184,900, nearly fully furnished.
The three-level flying saucer-shape house needs a little tender loving care, says the owner, Ken Bell, broker of Diversified Inc. Realtors. The carpet needs to be replaced and the deck needs some attention, for example, but "it's worth over $300,000 with updates," he said.
Indeed, the Space House sits on prime property: Approximately three-fourths of an acre of land, he said, on a curve on Signal Mountain Boulevard on the way up the mountain, giving it "location, location, location."
The house would be an ideal bachelor -- or bachelorette -- pad, said Mr. Bell, who last year bought the Space House from a Michigan couple for his daughter, Dona Bell, who had planned to move here from California. The two wanted to renovate the house for her residence, but Mr. Bell said his health has not been up to the task and his daughter hasn't left California. If the house doesn't sell soon, Mr. Bell said he may return to his original plan and refurbish the house for his daughter, who now plans to move here in March.
A production crew working for HGTV spent the day Wednesday filming a segment on the Space House to run sometime later this year, Mr. Bell said. It won't be the first time the residence has received national attention. In October 1994 the house was runner-up in Real Estate Today magazine for the most unusual house for sale in the nation, according to an old newspaper story. A water tower converted into a house in California received first place, she said. Other national media picked up the story.
Daryl Williams-Nelson said she was the Realtor who entered the house in the contest. A Chattanooga television station did a segment on the Space House's national recognition, she said, complete with someone dressed up as an alien.
The listing wasn't without drama, she said. The owners at the time were renting the Space House to a tenant who caused a scene during a scheduled open house and the police were called, Mrs. Williams-Nelson said. Hundreds of people were kept waiting outside until the situation was resolved. In the process, Mrs. Williams-Nelson said she was stung multiple times by a yellowjacket.
The house sold on Halloween 1994 to Mildred and Boyd Burchard, a retired couple from Battle Creek, Mich.
"I sold it," Mrs. Williams-Nelson said. "Everyone made fun of me when I listed it."
Selling the house was "awesome," she said. Mrs. Williams-Nelson said she rushed from being with her husband who was having a medical procedure to show the house to the Burchards, who decided to buy the residence, and wrote up the sales contract on the hood of the Burchards' DeLorean.
Mrs. Burchard said in a telephone interview she and her husband split their time between Michigan and Signal Mountain while they owned the Space House. The Burchards knew about the Space House because Mr. Burchard is a native of the Dayton, Tenn., area and has relatives here, his wife said.
"We liked the house because it was different," she said. "We saw it years ago and it was isolated. There were no neighbors on your doorstep."
When they stayed here, Mrs. Burchard said she and her husband played host to a large number of visiting Michiganders. Many people passing by asked to tour the house, but the couple normally didn't allow people inside, she said. The couple sold the Space House after tiring of driving back and forth several times a year, she said.
The Space House's ability to fascinate dates to its inception in 1970. A newspaper story in 1973 estimated between 20,000 to 30,000 people had toured the property in the three-year period.
Dr. Clif Cleaveland said he and his son were two of those tourists. They viewed the home during an open house after construction was finished, he said. That's the only time Dr. Cleaveland has been inside, despite having lived four houses down from the landmark building since it was constructed, he said.
Signal Mountain Realtor Lois Killebrew said she was the first real estate agent ever to list the house for sale. Her client was the builder, C.W. King. Mrs. Killebrew said she held an open house from 2-5 p.m. one Sunday and so many people showed up the police were called to do traffic control. The event ran over to about 6 p.m. At the time, the home's stair entryway was retractable. Mrs. Killebrew said she was raising the stairs to signal people the open house was over, but a man grabbed the stairs, hanging on as it rose.
"He was saying 'Please let me in. I just want to take a quick look,' " Mrs. Killebrew said. "I said 'Please turn loose.' "
And he did, she said.
"People would come at all hours to tour," she said. "All it was was a tourist thing. I gave the listing back (to the builder). To this day I still see people pull off, taking pictures."
People stopping to take pictures and stare at the Space House has never created a nuisance, Dr. Cleaveland said.
"It's certainly a defining landmark coming up the mountain," he said. "It's surprising how often I see cars, especially campers from out of town, pull off across the road."
'HOUSE OF THE 21ST CENTURY'
Mr. King, in a 1973 newspaper story, called the Space House "the House of the 21st Century."
"It was such a shock when he built it," said real estate agent Hugh Huffaker. "He told me he thought it would revolutionize the building industry in Chattanooga."
Not counting its unique appearance, the Space House had several unique features. The support legs provide plumbing and electrical connections, and the house is built of steel and concrete, Mr. Bell said.
The house currently has propane heat, Mr. Bell said. But when it was built, the Electric Power Board touted it as an all-electric home ideal for conservation.
"We did advertising and held an open house," said Marie Smith, a former home economist with the Power Board's marketing division. "It was such an innovative looking structure."
The Space House is larger than it appears from the outside. The Hamilton County Property Assessor office lists the house at 1,954 square feet.
"I was amazed to see it was three levels," Dr. Cleaveland said.
Entering the Space House is an experience like none other on this planet. Part of the entryway is lined with wallpaper, ending at a traditional residential door. An amber-colored light panel illuminates the doorway.
The first thing one sees inside is a bar with mirrors lining the curved wall. Up another flight of stairs is the main living area. The living room is open to the kitchen which has a black-and-white checkerboard floor. A sliding glass door opens onto a small deck overlooking Signal Mountain Boulevard. Two bedrooms and a bathroom also occupy the main level.
The master suite is perhaps the most prominent interior feature. The round room is raised on a platform in the center of the main living area. But the master bedroom comfortably fits a bed and features a bathroom with Roman-style tub. A skylight in the bedroom has been covered up, but Mr. Bell said it could be restored if the roof was redone.
Mr. Bell said if he does sell the Space House instead of holding onto it, the furniture goes with it. That includes the bed in the master suite, a television, linens, pots and pans, various tables and other items. The dishwasher may need to be replaced, he said, as it's old and he suspects the hoses may have worn out. The floor is covered with carpet, but is hardwood underneath, he said.
Mrs. Burchard said she and her husband, a retired Post Grape-Nuts cereal dryer operator, enjoyed the house's open floor plan. They decorated both the Space House and their house in Battle Creek, which they've owned since 1948, with modern furniture, she said.
According to old newspaper stories, Mr. King and his family envisioned building similar houses around the nation, but the cost became prohibitive. So the prototype mothership became a one-of-a-kind Chattanooga structure.
The house is listed worldwide on LoopNet.com, a global commercial and investment real estate Web site, and has received a lot of attention, said Don Johnson with Diversified Inc. Realtors and the home's listing agent. A lot of people have viewed the house but only were curious, not potential buyers, which takes a lot of time away from work, he said. A couple of offers were placed but didn't go through, he said.
Someone from California has viewed the house and someone from England requested more information, Mr. Johnson said.
"But so far, it's only drawn 'local interest' on Earth," Mr. Johnson said.
E-mail Jason M. Reynolds at firstname.lastname@example.org
1408 Palisades Road
Signal Mountain, TN USA
Is it open to the general public?: no
When was it built? (Approximate if you must.): 01/01/1970
What is the name of this building?: Space Ship House