Mushroom House of Bethesda, Md., Goes on the Market

mushroom house at night
Courtesy of Long and Foster Real Estate via ZillowThe Mushroom House of Bethesda started out as a standard two-story home before its owners needed to add on.

By Catherine Sherman

For the first time, the famous Mushroom House of Bethesda, Maryland, has hit the market for $ 1.2 million. It’s not a new construction, but it could be. When Edward and Frances Garfinkle bought the place 47 years ago, it wasn’t a mushroom at all. A traditional twoi-story stucco, 4949 Allan Road, blended in with the rest of the block.

But like any growing family, the Garfinkles’ needs and tastes changed over time. They added kids to the mix and eventually needed an apartment for Edward’s mom.

“They wanted something unique — something absolutely one-of-a-kind,” said listing agent Donna Wartofsky of Long and Foster Real Estate. So in 1974, they went for it. They doubled the size of their home and covered it in free-flowing, polyurethane foam.

The process, the Garfinkles explained, was much like an artist forming a sculpture out of clay. Each day, they’d stand back and tell the builders to bring it in here or stretch it a little more there. They never intended for it to look like a mushroom but, over time, the name stuck.

Today, Bethesda’s Mushroom House is the talk of the town, but it isn’t the only home of its kind. The building material is used widely for insulation and roofs because of its flexibility and thermal quality. The Garfinkles call the house their “giant Thermos bottle” because even with a 30-foot-high ceiling, the house stays well insulated.

The home’s unconventional shape also allows for creativity with how the interior space is used. Measuring 3,700 square feet, the inside is open yet filled with nooks and crannies. There’s a vast great room, but also a lounging cave with a fireplace, and a cozy cut-out in one of the bedroom walls.

With their kids grown up, the owners are now parting with the place. They’re hoping to attract an artistic buyer like themselves — someone who’s hoping to break out of the traditional, single-family box.

Photos courtesy of Long and Foster Real Estate

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