Woman Buys Spaceship House

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - The sale price for a Chattanooga, Tenn., house shaped like a flying saucer is nothing to phone home about.
The Space House sold at auction Saturday for a down-to-earth bid of $135,000. Auctioneer Terry Posey says he's surprised bidding didn't go higher. The sale of the 38-year-old, three-bedroom structure perched on six "landing gear" legs attracted worldwide attention.
Posey says Pearl Johnson of Cincinnati bought the mountainside

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - The sale price for a Chattanooga, Tenn., house shaped like a flying saucer is nothing to phone home about.

The Space House sold at auction Saturday for a down-to-earth bid of $135,000. Auctioneer Terry Posey says he's surprised bidding didn't go higher. The sale of the 38-year-old, three-bedroom structure perched on six "landing gear" legs attracted worldwide attention.

Posey says Pearl Johnson of Cincinnati bought the mountainside house but didn't want to discuss the transaction.

The house has a retractable staircase that lowers to the ground. A neighbor says that feature came in handy for one former owner who was having an argument with her husband. She pulled up the stairway, drove her husband's truck underneath it so he couldn't get the stairs down and left him stuck inside.

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The home, an eye-catcher for almost four decades sits on a twisting road to Signal Mountain. Boldly built by the late Curtis W. King in 1970 - just after television executives grounded the original run of the Starship Enterprise - the circular house has multiple levels, three bedrooms, two bathrooms and an entrance staircase that lowers and retracts with the push of a button.

Lois Killebrew, a Realtor who handled an open house at the first sale decades ago, said hundreds of people lined up to see the then-ultramodern structure ringed with small square windows and directional lights and perched on six "landing gear" legs.

"It really looked like a spaceship ready to take off," she said.

King and his family built it "because it was very unusual and they liked to do unusual things," Killebrew said.

It's now more nostalgic than space age.

John Kleeman of Litchfield, Conn., an attorney and space culture enthusiast, said the house is "definitely a one of a kind design. There are very, very few of these types of houses out there. How many I don't know."

Kleeman considers the house to be a "national landmark."

He knows of variations of the flying saucer design in Pensacola Beach, Fla., Connecticut and California but none quite like the Chattanooga version.

The unique shape - sort of like two white Frisbees pasted together - poses some interior decorating challenges. The curve of the exterior creates a sloping ceiling and short side walls, but there's also a striking curved bar and a custom designed bathtub.

The flying saucer designs popped up about the time of the moon landings. "That's when all the excitement was," Kleeman said.

The Signal Mountain house is larger than the prefabricated and movable UFO-shaped structures, known as Futuro houses, designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in 1968.

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Terry Posey, an agent with Crye-Leike Auctions of Cleveland, Tenn., said the current owner has had the property only four months and didn't want to comment.

Posey posted a classified ad about the auction on e-Bay and said he already has a $100,000 bid from a prospective buyer. Leaflets promoting the auction say it would be a "great weekend getaway or unique rental property."

Previous owners have used the house seasonally and at least one, Kenneth Bell, once dreamed of renovating it for his daughter.

"For a young couple or a single bachelor it would be super," said Bell, who owned the property 18 months and never got around to updating it.

Passers-by often stop to take photos. The house has been shown on an HGTV show and drew interest from a movie company that wanted to rent it.

Kleeman, who with his wife and son operate a space museum and collect space artifacts, said he considered trying to buy the Chattanooga house, cutting it into sections and moving it. That was before he found out the exterior is mostly concrete.

Kleeman said he saw the Chattanooga house in Douglas Curran's book, "In Advance of the Landing: Folk Concepts of Outer Space."

"If you think in terms of human beings going into space being a transitional moment in human history, I think it is entertaining to a lot of people," he said.

The house is in an area that is zoned residential, with a wooden, octagonal-shaped house nearby and an A-frame just up Signal Mountain Road.

"It's sure an exciting piece of architecture," Kleeman said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

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