On Sunday, Bill Davenport went where few Chattanoogans have been before — for a walk inside the Signal Mountain spaceship house.
“I’ve been driving by this place since I was a kid,” said Mr. Davenport, 44, a Chattanooga native who now lives in Florida. “I just think this place is awesome.”
Up for auction for the second time this year, Sunday’s open house gave would-be buyers and gawkers alike a chance to survey the flying saucer’s unique features, including a curved wet bar, a round master bedroom and custom tiled bathtub. The round concrete home was sold at auction in March for $135,000, but the deal never closed, giving fans like Kim Adams, of Collegedale, another chance to bid on a piece of tangible fantasy.
“I’m an avid sci-fi fan, so what’s more ultimate than owning a spaceship?” said Ms. Adams, who attends Star Trek conventions and exhibits for fun.
She said she missed the first sale and was delighted when she saw the ad for the auction in the newspaper.
“I called up my husband (and said), ‘Honey, can I buy a spaceship?’” she said. “I have an Enterprise phone just waiting to come in.”
Built in 1970 — not long after the first Star Trek series ended — the suspended saucer has attracted a lot of attention over the years by tourists rubber necking along the hairpin turn on the mountain road.
10-year-old Levi Weaver, who was out with his family for a Sunday drive, was one of those who stopped by.
“It looks like you could just get in it, press some buttons and you’d be up in space,” he said.
According to Terry Posey of Crye-Leike auctions, the builder’s intent was to construct a subdivision of spaceship-style circular homes. Because the approximately 1,500-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom model home cost between $150,000 and $175,000 to construct, however, the builder was forced to scrap plans for a bigger project, Mr. Posey said. The current owner purchased the novelty home in November 2007 for $165,000, he said.
It may not always have been a money-winner, but its unique charm generated serious interest among potential buyers, Mr. Posey said.
Winning bidder James Faris, of Signal Mountain, paid $119,000 for the house, which he plans to rent out to weekend visitors. Owner of Quest Construction, Mr. Faris said he intends to “greenovate” the house by improving the insulation, updating the appliances and repainting with low VOC paint to make it more eco-friendly. He also said he’s considering painting the master bedroom to resemble a starry night.
“I’ve seen it for the past 40 some odd years and have always wanted to own it, and so now I do,” he said.