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Image of the Flintstone House.
Flintstone House in Hillsborough, CA

How Art Shapes Our Lives: Unusual Architecture – Part II

Image of the Winchester Mystery House.

Winchester Mystery House

FROM THE EDITOR: Sal Maccarone will be taking a brief hiatus from article writing at SNO. In his absence, he has asked us to republish some of his more popular articles from the past. This week: Unusual Architecture – Part II. Enjoy!

Originally published March 19, 2021.

By Sal Maccarone

While growing up just blocks from Sarah Winchester’s famous house in San Jose, I began to develop a real affinity for strange and unique residential architecture. Years later I was actually privileged to be involved with some of the restoration to the house. In spite of the fact that this house lacks any congruous master planning, it is still a wonderful example of Queen Ann Victorian architecture. The story goes that Mrs. Winchester continued to build around the clock for 38 years, (between 1884-1922), in an effort to appease the souls of those who fell victim to her husband’s Winchester rifle. The cost of this continuous building has been estimated at $5.5 million which is the equivalent of $172,000,000 of today’s dollars. The official museum web site for this marvelous structure is located at: (www.winchestermysteryhouse.com).

Image of the Winchester Mystery House.

Winchester Mystery House – Arial View










On a more current, and less somber note, I remember when a very unique residence was being built along a section of Hwy 280 in Hillsborough, Ca. It has been painted many different colors since it was first built in 1976; hence, it has looked like many different things. Affectionately known now as the “Flintstone House” it has been compared to everything from a moon colony prototype to a bunch of giant marshmallows. The fact is, the house was built as an experiment that utilized a new type of sprayable concrete; the effort was to create corner-free architecture. Every surface in this 36 thousand sq. ft. house is rounded. I am sure that it is very comfortable on the inside, but I have always wondered how they hang pictures on the walls.

IF YOU MISSED IT: Unusual Architecture – Part I

Image of the interior of the Flintstone House.

Inside of the Flintstone House








Image of the Madonna Inn.

Madonna Inn

Another very famous California wonder first opened for business in 1958 with just twelve rooms. While only a temporary residence for weary travelers, the Madonna Inn has become a real Central Coast landmark. Prominently located on Hwy 101, this motor inn is situated on the lower portion of a mountain called Cerro San Luis Obispo. The inn, which resembles a whimsical Swiss Alps village, was created by Alex Madonna (1918-2004) and decorated by his wife Phyllis. A tourist attraction in itself, the property now has 109 totally unique guest rooms, a bakery, a restaurant, a gift shop and many other wonderful out buildings. Some tourists stop just to peek at the famous utilitarian rock waterfall in the men’s restroom which was conceived by a Hollywood set designer. Always a great place to visit, their official website is located at: (www.madonnainn.com)

Image of the inside of the Madonna Inn.

Inside the Madonna Inn






Then there are those who choose to renovate an existing unique structure to be used as their own domicile. For example, the “Golf Ball House” in Yucca, Arizona was once a part of a futuristic community that never quite came to be. This four story, 3400 square foot spheroid built upon a single metal column looks just like a golf ball perched on a tee. The building was originally built to be used as a night club, but eventually plans for the whole forward-thinking development were scrapped. The building went into a state of deterioration for a number of years before being remodeled for use as a very unique private residence. Bravo!

Image of the Golf Ball House.

Golf Ball House








Sal Maccarone    salmaccarone.com


How Art Shapes Our Lives: Frank Lloyd Wright

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