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10 of the weirdest homes in the U.S.

Léopold Lambert/The Funambulist blog

(MoneyWatch) Would you ever consider living full-time in a Cold War missile silo? How about in a set of orange cement domes reminiscent of the Flintstones' house or a building designed to defy death itself?

Repurposed spaces inspire some architects and homeowners to reimagine what a home can be. Others are influenced by scientific breakthroughs -- or cartoon characters -- to solve domestic problems and create homes that embrace the unconventional.

Here are 10 quirky houses that will make you question what's normal.

Jail turned home in Rockville, Ind.


The Parke County, Ind. jailhouse was built in 1870 and was used to house prisoners until 1998 when they all were transferred across town. In 2010, tourists Debra Ackerman and Tony Winn visited the jail and were attracted to a steel door in the basement. When the two asked to buy it, they were told they could only have the door by purchasing the entire jail.

After just four days, Ackerman and Winn were sold on buying the property, and they began brainstorming ideas about how to transform the space into a combined personal home and bed and breakfast. The Old Jail Inn features securely barred rooms, has its own gift shop, beauty parlor and "Drunk Tank" winery. 

The boat house in East Sandwich, Mass.

This eccentric Massachusetts Masthead Estate is a boat house that isn't a houseboat. Architect and dance instructor John H. Foster built the main part of the home in 1898 and its Spanish galleon-inspired addition in 1917.

You can't actually see the boat part from the entrance, keeping the $3.5 million estate looking seemingly normal on approach. The main house offers 4,900-square-feet of living space and is part of a 16-acre estate that includes five buildings total.

A brick tepee in Cascade, Idaho

Have you ever wanted to get away from it all and run toward peace and quiet in the mountains? The person who built this brick tepee near an Idaho brook in 1968 definitely did.

This simple 826-square-foot cabin includes two bedrooms, one half bath, and a kitchen with a wood-burning stove. There is a full bathhouse and wooden deck outside.

The home was recently put on the market for $119,000 and sold for an undisclosed price.

The rotating desert house in Whitewater, Calif.


Just outside Palm Springs, a midcentury modern carousel home sits waiting for its owners to give it a spin. It was built in 1963 by Floyd D'Angelo of the Los Angeles-based Aluminum Skylight and Specialty Corporation to show off his product: The skylight. He partnered with aerospace engineer Henry Conrey, and together they worked to ensure they had created a home that could adjust to the light and climate imposed by the harsh desert sun.

The 857-square-foot, angular D'Angelo House can rotate up to 130 degrees, which accounts for sun movement throughout the day.

A home that intends to extend life in Long Island, N.Y.

Léopold Lambert/The Funambulist blog

Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins, romantically-partnered artist-architect-poets and founders of the Reversible Destiny Foundation, claimed their 2008 Bioscleave House was "an interactive laboratory of everyday life" where "whoever moves about within it wishing to live forever may do so." That is to say, Arakawa and Gins wanted to create an environment where people could outsmart death.

The colorful home's sloping concrete floors, which resemble the bumpy ground of an imaginary and faraway planet, challenge traditional modes of human coordination. In fact, everything in the house makes it remarkably difficult to complete otherwise simple tasks. For Arakawa and Gins, this was the point -- to be aware of living.

Despite his best efforts, Arakawa passed away in 2010, but Gins has continued building their legacy.

Color-changing Chameleon House in North Port, Mich.

Anthony Vizzari/Anderson Anderson Architecture

This towering industrial house in a cherry orchard overlooking Lake Michigan does anything but blend into the countryside. Yet polyethylene slats skirting its outside walls, placed 2 feet in front of galvanized sheet metal, reflect the light and hues of its surrounding landscape. As a result, the building appears to change colors like a chameleon.

Dan and Sue Brondyk commissioned Anderson Anderson Architecture to design and build the home, which was completed in 2006. Since the company used prefabricated materials, Chameleon House took less than eight weeks to build. Despite its nine levels, the building is only 1,650 square feet.

A missile silo home in Lewis, N.Y.


Forty feet underground, a decommissioned Cold War missile silo is now commissioned as a private residence, though in the hands of an evil genius and with the right decor, it could easily function as a secret lair. The home is nearly invisible at ground level, with only an unassuming entrance marking its existence.

Owner Alexander Michael decided to remain true to the structure's unique history and begin the process of restoring the missile equipment rather than getting rid of it. However, he did add a bedroom and living room, decked out in Cold War-era style furnishings.

The former Jamesburg Earth Station in Carmel Valley, Calif.

Keller Williams Realty

This satellite dish, first commissioned by the Kennedy administration to send and receive space messages, has been turned into a 21,000-square-foot residence that sits on more than 160 acres of land. While in use, its most famous task was receiving several of the first photographs of the 1969 moon landing via the 97-foot-tall dish. Many original features remain in the building, including 14 file cabinets of seemingly untouched blueprints and Cold War images hung on the walls.

Jeffrey W. Bullis, the station's owner who adapted it into a living space, began leasing it to New York company Lone Signal in 2012. Lone Signal now uses Jamesburg to send personal messages from Web contributors into space every Tuesday and Wednesday.

A steel home in Ransom Canyon, Texas

Creative Commons/Leaflet

Architect and sculptor Robert Bruno created his Steel House just outside Lubbock, Texas, to be part home and part artwork. He began the project in 1974 and continued redesigning the building throughout all 34 years of its construction.

In addition to the abstractly-curved structure of the house, which he built himself using just one assistant, Bruno also created stained glass for the windows featuring similar lines.

Rather than having a framework with building materials to fill in the gaps, the approximately 110 tons of metal comprising Steel House serves as both its skeleton and its walls. Bruno lived in the home for eight months before his death in 2008. 

A house made by balloons in Hillsborough, Calif.

Jeffrey Cole/Flickr

On I-280 in Hillsborough, Calif., just south of San Francisco, there is a home many neighbors consider a "Yabba-Dabba-don't." The 2,730-square-foot, three-bedroom house -- which has no tangible connection to the Flintstones show, but evokes a familiar Stone Age charm -- was designed by William Nicholson in 1976, using aeronautical balloons to create rounded cement molds.

In the mid-1980s, the Hillsborough community design review board tried to take advantage of water damage affecting the home to get rid of it for good, but failed when its new owner made renovations.

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