Minneapolis' Mushroom House for Sale

If you ever dreamed of living in a house made of hardened polyurethane insulation foam, now's your chance. A mushroom-shaped, '60s-era structureoutside of MInneapolis known as the Ensculptic House has had its price knocked down to $212,000 after listing in September at $237,000.

Constructed in 1969 for around $30,000, the fascinating blob-like residence was designed by architect Winslow Wedin for a client couple who wanted something different and at relatively low cost. It passed through several owners after the couple died, including their daughter who is now selling it.

The 4,080-square foot, two-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom house needs $30,000 to $50,000 to return it to a livable state, as there's no running water or septic system and the copper piping was ripped out over the past few years when it wasn't occupied.

That hasn't stopped a stream of potential buyers from viewing the place, in all its Flintstones-esque weirdness.
"You have to be interested in quirky," says realtor Dayna Murray ofKeller Williams Realty in Minneapolis, who is showing the house, which is made of burlap stretched over nylon cables and covered in sprayed-on polyurethane foam. Viewers have suggested turning house into an art studio, an event space or a bed-and-breakfast.

"Another suggested a haunted house," Murray adds.

Who would want to live there?

Ensculptic House does have its charms, although they're not so obvious. An article in Life magazine described the residence, with its amorphous shape and rounded, undulating walls as "an Olympic soufflé or a giant mushroom with portholes." It also said the inside was "light, airy and wondrously unpredictable." (See more photos at the end of this post.)

The house sits on 8.4 acres and has lots of windows and light, and polyurethane makes for good insulation from the harsh weather, so energy bills might be low.

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But of course, you would be living in an architectural curiosity, one of 10 built by Wedin at a time when, he recalls, he was fascinated by exploring "thin-shelled hanging structures and free-form houses."

The hardened foam house concept never caught on, although you could argue that the flowing shapes do resemble some of the futuristic buildings by current star-architect Zaha Hadid.

Wedin, who now lives and practices in Boca Raton, Fla., doesn't know the fate of the other Ensculptic (defined as "environmental sculpture in plastic") houses in Colorado, Florida, Wisconsin and Kansas City.

The fate of the Minneapolis house is also uncertain. It was tough to come up with comparables for a house that looks like a covered spider web, so Murray priced the house at the land's value.

"You buy the land, you get the house," she says, which means the Ensculptic could, sadly, be bulldozed into oblivion and with it an iconic example of experimental architecture.

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