Since I was young, I always loved the wooded entrance to Power Mill park in Perinton, NY. We had family reunions there, scouting events, parties, hiking trips, sledding trips, all sorts of activities. Each time we would turn off of Route 96 from Victor to Bushnell’s Basin, I would always strain to look out the windows on the left hand side of the car to catch a glimpse of the magical, “Mushroom House.” I didn’t always know that it was a house, nor did I know it wasn’t modeled after a mushroom. To my naive eyes, a house was a traditional wood framed structure with square corners and straight walls. When I did learn that this unique sculpture was in-fact somebody’s home I was filled with wonder and amazement. It was revelations such as this that led me to expand my horizons and dreaming and ultimately the catalyst for my interest in design. But for the moment I was pleased with my brief glimpses of the magical “Mushroom House” on the edge of the park.
The house was designed by Architect James Johnson for Robert and Marguerite Antell to resemble a grouping of the Queen Anne’s Lace wildflower, not a mushroom. Completed in 1970 the home is honored with its presence on many world’s strangest houses lists. There are four 80-ton pods that make up the bulk of the house and one balcony, all supported 14 to 20 feet above the ground. The “stems” vary between 5 feet thick at the base to 3 feet thick at the top and the pods are 34 feet in diameter. The original owner of the home, Mrs. Antell, crafted and fired 9,000 earth tone ceramic tiles which now adorn the floors and the walls were covered with stucco to match the color of the sand on site. Two of the pods are sleeping areas, the center houses the kitchen and sitting room, the fourth had the living-dinning areas with a fireplace. The last is a full deck with expansive views of the ravine below.
As we are currently on the housing market of course I looked the value of this home up and was not surprised to find that if it were for sale it would remain comfortably out of our price range. With the last assessment coming in around half a million dollars, I am sure the family would be hard pressed to sell at all, after finally returning the home to the original family after the Antells sold it in 1996. That’s fine with me, I am not sure I would be interested in living in the trees anyway, no room for a workshop or storage for all the items we will undoubtedly acquire. Overall though, I am extremely grateful that the Rochester area is fortunate enough to house such an inspirational piece of organic architecture.