The Strangest and Most Unusual Homes You Can Buy


Mushroom House, as it is known, features connected ‘pods’.
Photo: Rich Testa of RE/MAX Advance

When Robert and Marguerite Antell told architect James Johnson they wanted to build a fun, artistic home, he handed the couple a coke bottle with a flowering sprig of Queen Anne’s lace. “This is your new home,” he explained. Forty years later the cream-colored pod that they built from his plans hit the market for $1.1 million in Pittsford, N.Y.

The “Mushroom House,” as locals call it, is comprised of five connected “pods,” or housing structures, including two living areas, a patio, a master suite with office, and a guest pod with two bedrooms. More than 10,000 tiles bedazzle the walls, floors and counters throughout. Completed in 1971, the distinctive building has undergone an extensive update and garnered landmark status.

It is just one of 12 unique, unusual and in some cases, downright strange, homes for sale right now in the U.S. With the help of,, Sotheby’s International Realty, Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate and Stribling & Associates, we culled through listings nationwide to find our favorite nontraditional abodes that make McMansions look mundane. Prices for the homes we highlight vary from as little as $225,000 to as much as $13 million.

One of the interior rooms in the Mushroom house.
Photo: Rich Testa of RE/MAX Advance

Our list includes a regal church converted into posh condos, including a stained glass-bedecked $1.5 million, three-bedroom unit in western Pennsylvania; a haute houseboat docked in Seattle for $3.45 million; and a $8.5 million Mountain Village, Colo. estate constructed of recycled mining materials and equipped with an enclosed steel and timber bridge.

Such properties don’t always snag buyers (at least not right away). They’re not for everyone. Yet the Mushroom House’s listing agent says the property is enjoying a high interest level. “It’s like you’re living in a sculpture,” explains Rich Testa of RE/MAX Advance, noting that construction of a home like this today would cost upwards of $4 million. “We are marketing it to higher-end buyers and we have done and continue to do email blasts and direct mailings to patrons of the arts.”

Pittsford’s flower power pad isn’t the only home striving to be a work of art. Los Angeles’ Schnabel House is a $13 million “village of sculptural forms” erected by renowned architect Frank Gehry (whose work includes Dr. Seuss-esque structures as the MIT Stata Center and New York by Gehry). The geometric Schnabel House is built of stucco, glass, copper, steel and lead, flanked on one side by a giant reflecting pool. The 1989 estate just underwent an extensive renovation overseen by Gehry himself, hitting the sale block once complete.

For those looking for something more historical, America has a fair share of nouveau castle keeps, like Tennessee’s hulking Crantzdorf Castle that has been asking $19.5 million. New York City’s northern-most borough, The Bronx, has one on the market for just under $3 million. Located in the tony Riverdale neighborhood that the Kennedy family once called home, the medieval-style manse is fashioned after a 16th Century outpost in Croatia. The 1925 stone structure touts a private courtyard and a two-story turret, and sits on one of the highest points in the city.

“It’s not Walt Disney-ish, it’s more a solidly built home with all the castle features,” says Peter Browne, the property’s co-listing agent. His real estate brokerage, Stribling & Associates, shares the listing with Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate. “I think whoever buys this will have a lot of people who want to come visit ‘the castle.’”

Here are some of the strangest and most unusual homes you can buy:

Converted Church
459 40th Street 2
Lawrenceville, PA.
List Price: $1.5 million

This church was converted to condos, including this 3-bedroom unit
with 38-foot vaulted ceilings, and stained glass windows.

Frank Gehry’s Schnabel House
526 N. Carmelina Ave
Los Angeles, CA.
List Price: $13 million

The “village of sculptural forms” is built of copper, stucco, wood, glass and lead
– featuring a reflecting pond off of the master bedroom.

Floating Home
2369 Fairview Avenue E6
Seattle, WA.
List Price: $3.45 million

This docked, custom home sits atop the water in a gated
“floating waterfront community”.
Photo: Trulia

Desert Nomad House
6353 West Sweetwater Drive
Tucson, AZ.
List Price: $975,000

Comprised of three steel and glass cubes, these Sonoran Desert modules
are meant to be as much an artistic statement as a residence.
Photo: Forbes Images

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~ by mortgagecompliancecorner on July 25, 2011.

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