The Futuro House was conceived by Matti Suuronen in 1968 as a "portable" ski chalet. It is an iconic piece of architecture and this site is devoted to documenting the history of the Futuro and the current status and whereabouts of the remaining examples.
This has been a challenging year for almost everyone and the folks engaged in restoring this Futuro were no exception. That said while work on the project was impacted by Covid-19 it has continued albeit at a slower pace than that originally anticipated.
Recently we were able to "catch up" on progress and the owner kindly also shared a couple of videos and photos with us; these updates are particularly interesting in a couple of ways.
Perhaps most interesting was the discovery that despite it appearing that this Futuro had no lower viewing windows during the "strip down" part of the restoration project it was actually discovered that there were indeed lower viewing windows that had been filled in and covered up many years ago.
Secondly they illustrate a little of the complexity of a Futuro restoration project. We are often contacted by folks hoping to be able at some point to purchase and restore a Futuro and they often ask what is involved in restoring a Futuro. Our answer is that while every Futuro and therefore every project is different the simplest answer is "a lot".
This particular Futuro was certainly not in the best condition but we have also seen units in much worse condition and the videos below perhaps go just a little way towards illustrating just how much work can potentially be involved in a Futuro restoration project. For sure not something to be taken on lightly!
Our thanks to Maynard Sipe for sending us these two photos showing this Futuro in March 1990 when it was located in Marshall, TX.
Moving a Futuro can be a logistical challenge and it took some time to get everything squared away in this case. That said after navigating some adversity this Futuro has now actually been relocated.
The new owner shared the photo below with us showing the Futuro finally getting ready to "hit the road" for California.
This Futuro has been sold and will be relocated to the Greater Los Angeles area. The new owner kindly shared the photos and video below taken during the process of disassembling the unit.
In a previous update to this page on 100116 we wrote about a 1986 issue of the Longview Morning Journal that recounted how this Futuro was brought to Marshall, TX from Minnesota by Ed Hoffman and then later purchased by Michael Thompson who turned it into the business "Cosmic Cones".
Interestingly the article suggests that the Futuro was "dis-assembled into five segments and then re-assembled in two parts on a truck for its trip to Texas". Difficult to envisage a Futuro being dis-assembled to five segments; maybe the top half was broken down to four segments so the bottom half could then be loaded onto a truck with the top half then being reassembled again for transport? The article included a single photograph, presumably of the Futuro as it appeared in Marshall at the time.
It is always nice to see recent photos of Futuros; these photos of Rockwall were taken 110517 by Kristin Lavitola and sent to us a few days ago.
The 060886 issue of the Longview Morning Journal included an interesting article that included the first photos we have come across of the this Futuro during the time it served as a snow cone store in Marshall, TX along with some history.
The article tells us that in 1986 Marshall native Michael Thompson, who had for some years worked in the Austin/San Antonio area, decided to return to Marshall and open his own business. After discussions with family and friends he decided he would open a snow cone stand and when he saw a Futuro, owned by Ed Hoffman, he knew he had found the structure he wanted as the "draw" for his business which he christened "Cosmic Cones".
According to the article before Hoffman brought the Futuro to Marshall it had been displayed at the 1976 Minnesota State Fair and Hoffman also believed it had once served as a "bunny hutch" at a Playboy Club. The September 1970 issue of Playboy Magazine included an article on the Futuro titled "Portable Playhouse" and a Futuro was located for a while at the first Playboy Resort in Lake Geneva, WI. That Futuro was later relocated to Janesville, WI. What happened to the Futuro after Janesville is not documented, at least so far as I have been able to discover, so it is possible, though by no means certain, that the Futuro did indeed end up in Marshall.
Thompson managed to persuade Hoffman to sell him the Futuro which he moved to 713 East End Blvd. South, a location Thompson had determined was one of the busiest streets in Marshall and as such was a great location for "Cosmic Cones". He painted the Futuro a shiny green and geranium pink, a color scheme it has retained to this day (though hard to tell from the black and white photo that accompanied the article it looks like the upper green section may have been added later). Thompson also added a restroom, storage space and counters inside the Futuro and a deck outside to service customers.
The use of the Futuro for the business was clearly a centerpiece of marketing "Cosmic Cones" but apparently other marketing efforts around the "ufo" theme were also added including helium balloons being handed out to customers by folks in Martian costumes, ordering green themed t-shirts and "space age antenna" headgear and radio ad campaigns inviting customers to come and enjoy "a frozen encounter of the best kind" from "one of the friendly Martians that serve you at the green spaceship".
Thompson also had expansion plans for the future including a wider menu that might include breakfast tacos, frozen yogurt and other fast food items such as nachos or hot dogs. He also planned on adding another deck in back for children's parties and even a drive thru window.
We have no idea if any or all of these plans came to fruition or how long "Cosmic Cones" remained in business but we do know the Futuro was moved to Rockwall in the mid 1990's.
Josie posted a couple of great photographs of the Rockwall Futuro on her blog Sharing The Sleeves on 071413. The photographs are displayed here with permission - thank you Josie.
We have often seen references to a 2001 Dallas Morning News article about the two Texas Futuros, this one and the Royse City one, but we have never been able to find a copy of the paper. We still have not found one but we did discover that the Dallas Morning News archives it's articles and that they can be accessed online; of course it costs more for a single article online that it did to buy the whole newspaper but that is just a "sign of the times".
Anyway having found the text of the article (the archives do not include photos used in the paper) it turns out that there are a couple of interesting little snippets in there about this Futuro's history.
At the time of the article (2001) this Futuro was actually home to a local teenager largely because she had previously seen the Royse City Futuro. When, in 1995, her family was planning on moving Rachael was not happy at the fact that the new house did not have enough room for the children to all have their own rooms. Rachael, inspired by the Royse City Futuro, said to her mother "buy me a spaceship and I will move." Rachael, who did not want to move, had thought that an impossible goal; however her mother, clearly an extremely resourceful lady, actually found one and relocated it from Marshall, an East Texas town, where it had been used as a snow cone stand.
The earliest Google Earth satellite imagery of this site is 012396 and this does show the Futuro on site at that time. That fits with the Dallas Morning News story that dates the move from Marshall to Rockwall around 1995. So far we have not been able to find out anything about the Futuro during its time in Marshall. There is Google Earth satellite imagery of parts of Marshall from 030795 so depending on the timing of the move it is possible the Futuro may be visible in Marshall though without an address and/or coordinates finding things in Google Earth, particularly with the older imagery, can be akin to finding the proverbial "needle in a haystack". If you know anything about a Futuro in Marshall, Texas or have any old photos please let us know.
For the record The Dallas Morning News actually published two different versions of the article under different titles. The articles are dated 020901 and were under the titles "Hot Saucers" and "Back To The Futuro".
We learned yesterday from the owner of this Futuro that it had at one time been used as a snow cone place. We have only been in the Dallas area since 1997 so we could use a little help here; any of you Dallasites out there remember this? Where it was located, maybe even an old photo?
If so please let us know.
Through all our past and ongoing research on Futuro we have come across what we can only describe as a little confusion regarding the Futuro House (or houses) in Rockwall County, TX. References are made to as few as one and as many as three but blogs, blog comments and forum threads often seem to confuse one with another or consider two to actually be the same one. Mention is made of Futuro's located in Quinlan, Rockwall, around Lake Tawakoni and many other places.
We were able to locate two using Google Maps and Google Earth and it became apparent to us that they were not the same one (we had seen it suggested that it was the same one relocated). Google Earth dates its satellite imagery and, if older imagery is available, includes the ability to "roll back" and look at that earlier imagery. We were able to establish that both Futuro Houses had been visible on satellite imagery from the same date several times (012396, 033101, 102105, 103008 and 060510). For them to be a single Futuro someone would have had to be doing some incredible feats of moving the Futuro one way and then back the other way; the two locations are only 10 miles apart but on country roads that would be some trek for a 24' diameter Futuro given that it would have had to race either the airplane or satellite that was capturing the images.
Given the confusion, our belief that there were two distinct Futuros and the fact that we live about 50 miles away from the area we decided there was nothing for it but to check it out for ourselves, put the confusion to rest and confirm our findings.
The end result; there are two confirmed Futuro Houses in Rockwall County, TX. We visited and photographed both on 091411. One, this one, is at 779 Stevens Rd, Rockwall, TX 75032 and the other is at 9573 State Highway 276 W, Royse City, TX 75189. The one often mentioned as being around Lake Tawakoni is, as far as we can ascertain, actually the Highway 276 one (it is located about 18 miles west of West Tawakoni which sits on the west shore of the lake).
Unfortunately we have no history or additional information on this Futuro. It appears to be in much better condition than the other one we visited and it looks like it is still in some sort of use judging by the fact that the images reveal things inside but other than that we know nothing. The two photos below were taken from the street, the Futuro sits quite some way back on private land, on 091411.