Yabba, dabba… dome home?
Yes, Fred Flinstone himself would fit right in at 1401 Mississippi Ave. in Duluth. That’s where, sitting on .6 woodsy acres in the heart of the city, a 2,800-square-foot monolithic dome home ripped from Bedrock just hit the market for $279,900.
“We’ve had maximum exposure, it’s been kind of amazing,” says listing agent Loren Johnston. “I’ve never seen this amount of attention before; it’s been crazy.”
The 5-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom house was built in 1971 by George Hovland, the Duluth skiing legend who competed with the 1952 U.S. cross-country team in Oslo. Despite no formal architectural training, he dabbled in home design and construction. Hovland, who opened Duluth’s first ski shop and championed the sport his entire life, died in May following hip surgery complications. The 94-year-old was still skiing in March.
“This particular property was unique in its time, and that’s certainly not changed today,” Johnston says. “I’ve not found anything like it locally; the superstructure—which gives it that magnificent dome effect—is composed of a urethane foam, and that itself makes it exceptionally unique.”
In the ‘70s and ‘80s, dome homes—both the monolithic and geodesic styles—were touted as potential “homes of the future” due to their low cost, energy efficiency, strength, and ease of construction. “I think we will be able to get the cost down so low it will scare you,” foam dome builder/booster William Milburn warned The Christian Science Monitor in 1980. Monolithic Dome Institute founder David B. South described the building material as “magic… the world’s best-kept insulation secret” in his 2009 book, Urethane Foam.
Obviously, the trend never caught on with mainstream homeowners. Perhaps that’s why, despite the booming showings, Johnston hasn’t found a buyer quite yet.
“It’s been over a week, so it’s not flying off the market,” he says, noting features like the wrap-around porch, skylights, and two fireplaces. “It’s such a unique, creative home, and it’s going to attract a unique buyer.”
The Duluth housing market has been red-hot in 2021; prices for Twin Ports homes spiked by around 10 percent (similar to what we’re seeing in the Twin Cities). Possibly related: Trend pieces are already emerging that predict Duluth will become the future Miami as climate change boils the rest of the U.S. July was the hottest recorded month in human history… gulp.
Anyway! Before you scurry up north in your Flintstones car, take a photo tour of 1401 Mississippi Ave. courtesy of Lewis & Clark Real Estate.