Mushroom House: Terry Brown’s Cincinnati TreeHouse

Mushroom House in Cincinnati, Ohio
Terry Brown's Mushroom House in Cincinnati, Ohio
Terry Brown’s Mushroom House in Cincinnati, Ohio

In Cincinnati’s Hyde Park neighborhood lies a building that looks like it came right out of a children’s storybook. This is Ohio’s very own Mushroom House, also known as the TreeHouse.

Built by Terry Brown, this landmark marks the great architect’s creative genius. The house took more than a decade to create; construction began in 1992 and ended in 2006. It served as Brown’s secondary residence, architecture studio and teaching tool for his students.

The landmark itself is a simple one-bedroom house. The most prominent features are its copper ceilings and an orange spiral staircase entry. Terry Brown’s creation has porthole windows that sit against a swirling cedar exterior, which is what gives it its fairytale-like appearance. The side of the house is covered in warped shingles that were placed there to resemble the underside of a mushroom. The bulbous roofing gives the building an added fungal look.

The inspiration behind this building came from Brown’s desire to create spaces that would relate to human activity. Brown realized early on in his career that space and people are connected. Hence, he started to build small structures that would feature intimate spaces.

The Mushroom House was the result of experimental architecture. The structure could only be built after many meticulous drawings and complicated geometric calculations. Brown’s aim was to use materials that are not conventionally used to build houses and to combine elements that are not typically combined.

After Brown’s passing in 2008, the hype for the Mushroom House did not die down. The house remains a Cincinnati landmark that attracts people from afar. Currently, the structure is being looked after by Brown’s friend, Paul Lausha. Brown’s other works are exhibited at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Architectural League of New York.