Bizarre living: Cincinnati's "Mushroom House"



In the Spanish city of Barcelona, where architect Anton Gaudi created some of the world’s most individualistic and artistic structures in the world one might expect to find something called “Mushroom House.”

But in the Cincinnati neighborhood of Hyde Park? Set among the traditional Colonials and capes?

No wonder the sight of this art house makes passersby slam on their brakes!

That is the effect “Mushroom House” has on visitors to this Midwest city. The home was built over a 10-year span by architect Terry Brown. Situated in the Hyde Park neighborhood, across from a restaurant and surrounded by more “traditional” looking homes, Brown’s creation stands out as a one-of-a-kind art installation.

Brown bought the property as a single-family home in 1989 and in 1991, began transforming the home into his custom office. An assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, Brown involved the work of his students to help turn the home into a piece of organic architecture. In an interview, Brown described the home’s building process “an extension of transcendentalism.”

While critics surmise that the home wasn’t built with a plan, listing agent Amanda Voss says that Brown definitely had a design and it shows in the home’s intricate details and unique building materials ranging from wood, colored glass and shells to ceramics and various metals.

“He had a plan,” Voss said. “Everything is hand done — right down to the wood detailing and tiny tiles. It’s an art installation really, and it took so long because he incorporated the design students.”

The construction length adds to the appeal of the house, Voss said.

“There’s a generation of people who grew up watching it being built,” Voss explained. “My daughters always wanted to know what would happen next.”

Once the Cincinnati home was done, Brown used it as an office. But, the 1-bedroom, 1-bath house has a kitchen and could easily be turned into a single-family home.

“It could be a great office, a great home for somebody or even a great bed-and-breakfast because it’s a piece of art,” said Voss.”His passion lives in it.”

According to Zillow’s mortgage calculator, a monthly payment on the Mushroom House would be $1,289 a month, assuming a 20 percent down payment on a 30-year-mortgage.