If you consider yourself a non-conformist, or one who shuns traditional ways of doing things, then here is a perfect lineup of nontraditional homes that should fit your spirit perfectly. Take your pick from a church, an old firehouse, an earthship home, a geodesic home, a floating home, and even a decommissioned missile site. Plus, some of these homes are for sale!
10 One-of-a-Kind Places to Call Home:
1. Old Firehouse – 117 Broad St, San Francisco, CA 94112 (above)
Status: For Sale — $975,000
San Francisco’s Firehouse 33 was in the business of fighting fires from 1896 to 1974. Up until 1921, it had two horses, a steamer, a Dalmatian and a rotating crew of firefighters. When bigger fire engines were built in the 1970s, Firehouse 33’s doors could not accommodate the wider girth and so, the original Firehouse 33 became obsolete and a new Firehouse 33 was built around the corner. An entrepreneurial couple bought this firehouse and turned it into a home/business — the “San Francisco Fire Engine Tours & Adventures” business. It has two beds, two baths and 4,000 sq ft of space, plus interesting amenities such as the original redwood lockers the firemen used, lots of closet space, a garage that can fit six cars (and a firetruck, if you had one) and of course, a fire pole!
> See more photos of the firehouse
2. Old Church — 601 Dolores St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (above)
Status: For Sale – $7,490,000
Yes, here we are in San Francisco again (surprised?) where we find a fabulously restored Gothic Revival home that was formerly a church. At 17,000 sq ft, it is said to be one of the largest single family homes in San Francisco. The living room features a soaring, coffered, hand-painted ceiling with seven enormous chandeliers, stained glass windows (naturally) and arched windows looking out to Dolores Park. Climb to the tower meditation room and deck for a 360-degree view of the city.
> See more photos of the church
3. Round House– 122 Olmstead Hill Rd, Wilton, CT 06897 (above)
Status: Presently off the market
Known as the “Connecticut Round House,” this unique property has been listed for sale a couple times before being recently removed with a list price of $1,750,000 (it was listed in 2008 for $2.3 million). Designed by architect Richard T. Foster, it is a cylindrical masterpiece that sits 12 feet off the ground on its “base” and has the ability to rotate slowly 360 degrees, taking in the nearly four acres of land and a pond. It takes about 50 minutes to complete an entire rotation and can be stopped, slowed down or sped up. Made of steel, glass and shingles, the 3,000 sq ft home was renovated in 2005 and is completely walled in glass. It features custom ash cabinetry, state-of-the-art Xenon interior lighting, marble and limestone bath finishes, and “Smart House” technology in the main house.” Plus, there is a separate guest house and in-ground lap pool.
> See more photos of the Connecticut Round House
4. Cave house – 1101 N 11th St, Festus, MO 63028 (above)
Status: Presently off the market
The “Cave House” was on the market in a distress sale in 2009, but it appears the owners were able to re-work their adjustable-rate loan and have now happily settled back into cave life. The 17,000 square foot house — er, cave — is in Festus, MO, and has three chambers: a front chamber that contains three bedrooms; a middle chamber that holds the laundry room, storage, and a spare bath, and the back chamber that still has the stage where Ted Nugent, Bob Seger, Ike and Tina Turner, and many other entertainers performed. Obviously, the owners of this cave are very well connected. No furnace or air-conditioning needed; geothermal and passive solar systems keep the home comfortable year-round. (Photo courtesy Caveland.us)
> See more photos of the Cave House
5. Earthship – 6 High Meadow Dr, Taos, NM 87571 (above)
Status: For Sale – $265,000
That’s right — you won’t find this “earthship” in a well-manicured cul-de-sac in most regions of the U.S., but your chances are much greater in New Mexico or Arizona. Called “Sol Ship,” this one-bed, one-bath earthship is designed for off-the-grid living and uses passive solar thermomass construction that heats and cools the interior. But don’t worry — you can tap into traditional systems if you have a craving for microwave popcorn. Many earthships are a little rough around the edges with recycled materials visibly poking out (tires, cans, bottles) but this is a higher-end earthship with an indoor koi pond and hand-plastered walls with whimsical sculpted displays around the fireplace and walls. Two underground, 3,000-gallon cisterns hold water. Own this home and no one will insult you about your carbon footprint, because it doesn’t exist.
> See more photos of the earthship
6. Geodesic home – 2643 Birch Ave, Batavia, IA 52533 (above)
Status: No longer on the market
Geodesic dome homes rode a wave of popularity in the 1960s and 70s, but their construction is now limited due to challenges in code requirements. While the exterior is round, the interior of geodesic homes contain many angles — just try to find a wall in which to hang a photo, or a long flat wall to position the couch. This four-bed, 3.5-bath dome home sits on 20 acres.
> See more photos of this geodesic home
7. Floating home – 2466 Westlake Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109 (above)
Status: For Sale – $975,000
No, Tom Hanks does not live here and this is not the Sleepless in Seattle floating home, but this is a quintessential floating home on Seattle’s Lake Union and better yet — it’s never been lived in. The shingled-style master craftsman design offers two bedrooms and one bath.
> See more photos of the floating home
8. Old Barn – 9424 Windsong Loop NE, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110 (above)
Status: Recently sold — $542,000
This Bainbridge Island, WA barn was built 104 years ago and was used as a dairy farm before being converted into a home. It retains its barn shape with soaring, cathedral ceilings with exposed beams and rough-hewn floors. Rolling barn doors serve as shutters to two bedrooms and one original wall reveals the original penciled shopping list that includes 2,100 pounds of seeds. Sixteen windows in the open living area draw passive solar heat and natural light.
> See more photos of the barn
9. Shoe House — 197 Shoe House Rd, Hellam, PA 17406 (above)
Status: Not listed on the market
Shoe store tycoon Mahlon Haines built this landmark home in 1948 as an advertising gimmick. The house features a front door with a stained-glass portrait of the owner himself, an observation platform, and even a shoe-shaped doghouse. Fittingly, Mahlon once used the home as a guest house, offering weekend stays to elderly couples. Read more about the Shoe house. (Photo courtesy Cool High Quality Pix).
> See Hellam, PA homes for sale
> See Hellam, PA home values
10. Decommissioned missile site – 1874 N Batum Rd, Othello, WA 99159 (above)
Status: For Sale – $3,500,000
We saved the best for last and no — this is not a joke. This is a decommissioned military Titan 1 missile complex that is being listed as a potential residential property and it’s for sale for $3.5 million in Othello, WA (about 3 hours east of Seattle). That’s the “front door” in the photo above, which is a two-ton hatch that leads down six flights of stairs to a network of subterranean rooms and tunnels that all connect to a 125-ft diameter “superdome” with a 65-ft ceiling. According to Windermere real estate agent Kelvin Wallin, 18 Titan 1 missile sites were built during the years 1959-1962 between Colorado and Washington state. This one has three underground missile silos that measure 160-ft deep and 40-ft wide. According to Wallin, this site can withstand and survive any nuclear blast. Twenty years ago, a man purchased this property from the government and intended to turn it into a youth camp, but he died before he could realize his dream. Enjoy your own private well, generator power, and live off the grid. Not much curb appeal, but this beauty was built to last!