One of Rockwall County’s most mysterious and yet least recognized landmarks received some tender love and care last weekend from Lone Oak natives Gunderson Elkins and Chris Shelton.
The Futuro House on State Highway 276, just inside the Rockwall County line near Munson Road, is one of fewer than 100 such houses in the entire world. Designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen manufactured out of fiberglass-reinforced polyester plastic in the 1960s and 70s, the Futuro House was an attempt to capitalize on the space race craze as well as the architectural abstractions of its day.
How the SH 276 Futuro came to land and deploy its on-ramp in Rockwall County is where the bit of mystery comes in. According to two early 21st century Dallas Morning News articles, the Futuro was once owned by Rockwall residents, brothers and car salesmen Jerry and Terry Moore. The former purchased the Futuro from an unknown original owner in Garland and then used it first as a business office before turning it into a bachelor pad.
“He just liked it,” Terry told the News in 2001. “I didn’t think much of it. I kind of thought it was crazy.”
Since then the Futuro has changed hands at least once and is now owned by Sapo Real Estate in Royse City, according to last year’s Rockwall County property tax records.
Over the last 30 years at its current location, the iconic Futuro UFO has been featured in tourism television shows, in the music videos and album artwork of passing indie bands and more.
Along came Elkins, who said, in a Facebook post last weekend featuring a video of his and Shelton’s restoration project, that the Royse City Futuro house has always been important to him.
“I’ve always loved this UFO, and thought of it as an important landmark in the community,” Elkins said. “It broke my heart when I moved back and saw it in such poor shape.”
Other than periodic and apparently low-effort repaintings over the years, the Futuro had fallen into significant disrepair – the inside was cluttered with trash and remnants of Moore’s original wood framing, and both the inside and outside were covered with graffiti, often inane and sometimes vulgar.
“(It) wasn’t even recognizable,” Elkins said in the post. “I wanted to repaint it and restore it back to something the community could be proud of. So Chris (Shelton) and I set out on doing just that.”
In the attached video, Elkins and Shelton can be seen clearing the trash out from the inside and then repainting the inside with a simple gray color and the outside in a vibrant orange, which seems to be the building’s original color.
To cap off the restoration project, the duo stenciled “AREA 276” near the Futuro’s main door, an homage to the mysterious Area 51 in Nevada.
Neither Elkins nor Shelton could be reached for comment regarding the effort or any future plans, though a Rockwall County official did caution that the Futuro house is, and is situated on, private property, and should be treated as such.
Curiously enough, the SH 276 Futuro is not the only such structure in Rockwall County – another was owned and used as a living space by residents in McLendon-Chisholm as early as 2001.
The McLendon-Chisholm Futuro, which has also since fallen into significant disrepair, was once used as a snow cone stand called “Cosmic Cones” in Marshall, according to a private Futuro researcher at TheFuturoHouse.com.
Prior to landing in Marshall, the house may have been located in Minnesota and Wisconsin.