Hatteras Island's out-of-this-world tourist attraction
By KIP TABB
silver reflective surface is throwing back the rays of the sun. From
the windows that encircle the saucer shape, alien faces peer out.
Suddenly a green man appears, crouching in the doorway. Cue the opening
to a classic 1950s horror and science-fiction TV show and a narrator in
the background saying, “It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.”
around the alien’s home are images of other green beings and the
remnant skeletons of humans who got too close in a nearby "cemetery,"
surrounded by a picket fence.
It is the Flying Saucer of Frisco --
aka The Frisco Spaceship -- a place where mystery and imagination meet
the future and the past.
flying saucer is actually a Futuro home—this particular one coming to
earth in the late 1960s. The homes were designed by Finnish architect
Matti Suuronen who envisioned using plastic and resins to produce a
prefab house for vacation getaways.
they haven't been manufactured since the mid-1970s, Futuro homes are
actually quite famous, have an avid following, and demand a high price
when being resold.
They have their own website
(www.futurohouse.com), Wikipedia listing, and Facebook page. And
earlier this year a Futuro house in Berlin, N.J., was being sold on
eBay for $29,900.
The Frisco Futuro house was bought by a family as
a vacation house more than 40 years ago and was located on the
oceanside in Hatteras village. A little more than 20 years ago,
Hatteras Island developer Jim Bagwell bought it from the original
owners and moved it to the soundfront in Frisco.
a time, it functioned as a hot dog stand and then an office, and
eventually Bagwell moved it to property he owned on the other side of
it stands today, where it attracts literally hundreds -- maybe
thousands -- of tourists each year, who stop by to take pictures of the
flying saucer that seems more than just a little out of place at
America's first national seashore.
the tourists have been greeted by a little green man, who sits on the
steps leading down from the saucer, waiting for them.
little green man is LeRoy Reynolds, who bought the Futuro from Jim
Bagwell several years ago, although Bagwell still owns the land the
spaceship rests on.
As Reynolds tells it, Bagwell was surprised anyone would want to buy the structure.
was in the Caribbean,” he recalls. “The Futuro home that was the hot dog
stand was for sale. He asked me, ‘What do you want with a space ship?’
Why not? It’s been here since 1968, if somebody else buys it, it could
leave the island. It’s kind of the island’s history in a way. People
come here to look at the space ship. As odd as it seems.
was an intelligent design,” he continues. “It just didn’t fit into the
way of thinking back then. It’s cool because you can see 360 with
windows all along.”
space ships go, it’s not very air tight -- probably not even completely
watertight. Some of the interior renovations that were done to make it
an ice cream stand—which it was, before it was a hot dog stand, weakened the structural integrity of the prefab segments.
Futuro homes were put together almost like a Tinker Toy or Lego -- four
wedge shaped bottom segments are fitted together with four top segments
that rest on pilings. Structural integrity is improved by cabinets that
extend almost entirely around the interior perimeter.
to Reynolds, the ice cream shop took out some of the cabinets so they
could get to the windows, and, as a consequence, one of the roof
segments has begun to separate.
For Reynolds, though, it’s a perfect
getaway. “I sit inside, because I do art. I play a little music. I do
stuff that’s different. I’ll take a guitar and do decoupage on it
and put neon strings on it and a light in it.”
The hope was that owning a flying saucer home would stamp him as different.
fit right into my thought pattern. Maybe if I do something different
from what everybody else has done down here it will work,” he says.
he wasn’t getting any closer to his dream of restoring the Futuro, or
even being able to tell people its story. Then his grandson, Porter
Allender, presented a simple solution.
“He says, ‘You need to
dress up in your alien suit and let’s see what’s happening.’ So I put
the suit on and the cars just stop.”
at mid-week in late October as the tourist season winds down, you can
still see vehicles turning off to inspect and photograph the spaceship.
Two cars stopped in less than an hour -- one from West Virginia, the
other from Michigan.
don’t ask for money and if someone wants to leave with a smile, that’s
all good,” he says. “If they leave with a smile, I’ve probably done my
job.”FOR MORE INFORMATION Click here for more information on the Frisco Space Ship and to watch a video on its history, go to