Mushroom House of Bethesda – Bethesda, Maryland - Atlas Obscura

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Mushroom House of Bethesda

Surrounded by traditional homes, this Tolkien-esque dwelling stands out on a quiet street in suburban Maryland. 


Located just across the border from Washington, D.C., the town of Bethesda, Maryland is a fairly well-to-do suburb and one of the last places one might expect to find a fantastical novelty house. But that is precisely what sits on Allan Road, just off of Western Avenue.

Eye-catching, to say the least, this strange residence was given its curvy configuration in the late 1960s. Architect Roy Mason, known for his futuristic Xanadu Houses, was hired by owners Edward and Frances Garfinkle to turn the house into something magical. With a profusion of polyurethane foam and a heaping helping of creativity, “The Shroom” was born.

Though the Garfinkles expressed some regret over the cost of the renovations as an apparent folly of youth, they were eventually able to sell the house at a profit in 2018. Real estate listings show that the interior of the home is as just as fascinating as its exterior, though a future open house is likely the only opportunity one might have to see inside.

Locals have several names for this house, including “The Flintstone House,”  “Smurf House,” and “Hobbit House.”  Whatever moniker one applies, it’s definitely worth a quick detour!

Know Before You Go

The home is a private residence on a residential street. Please be careful when driving in the area, and be respectful of residents, neighbors, and other motorists if stopping. Make sure that your car does not block traffic on Allan Road and please stay off of the property on which the house sits.

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