Who hasn’t heard of The Flintstones? Anybody who remembers growing up in the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s, and beyond, will instantly recognize the unforgettable Hanna-Barbera animated cartoon sitcom of a prehistoric family going through many hijinks in their daily life. And if you’re passing through 45 Berryessa Way, Hillsborough, California – then you’ll get a treat as there’s a house over there that brings the animated home to life!
With just one “teeny, tiny problem” – the rest of the people who live there HATE it.
A little backstory here: the house was designed and built in 1976 by architect William Nicholson as one of several domed buildings using new materials. It was constructed by spraying shotcrete onto steel rebar and wire mesh frames over inflated aeronautical balloons. All in all, the house is most likely an experimental build just for Nicholson to see if it could be done as he was originally inspired by the designs of domed mosques.
The property is known over the years with many nicknames such as the Dome House, the Gumby House, the Worm Casting House, the Bubble House, and “The Barbapapa House”, from Barbapapa, a character and series of books created by Annette Tison and Talus Taylor in the 1970s – but over time, one name stuck. It is now more famously known as “The Flintstone House”, from – you guessed it – The Flintstones.
While not exact, the house has approximately 2,700 sq ft (250 m2) of living space including three bedrooms, one accessed via a spiral staircase inspired by an ice cream cone that at the top is the same diameter as the room, and two bathrooms, and has a two-car garage. All the interior surfaces are rounded, and the master bathroom has a floor of rocks instead of tiles. Originally off-white in color, the house was repainted deep orange in 2000, and one of the domes was later painted purple.
When the mid-1980s came around, the house had fallen into disrepair – there’s water runoff from higher on the mountainside that damaged the foundation, causing the walls to crack. After several failed attempts at sealing the cracks, it was extensively restored in 1987 thereabouts.
The current home’s owner is the retired media mogul Florence Fang – whose family once published The San Francisco Examiner and other newspapers in their area. Ms. Fang bought the home for $2.8 million after about two years on the market in 2017 and did a LOT of restoration, remodeling, and several more additions to it (including life-size replicas of Fred Flintstone, the dinosaurs, and the gang).
It literally became THE Flintstone House for real.
Now here’s where things got a little “ugly”; the house was unpopular with some neighbors, and they were inspired to create the formation of a local architectural review board just to get that thing they call an “eyesore” torn down due to alleged “violations”.
The town literally created a review board to have “legal” standing on their “objections” to Ms. Fang’s home. That’s just insane!
In March 2019, with the “board” in place, the town of Hillsborough sued Fang and called the towering dinosaurs and life-size sculptures “a highly visible eyesore”, alleging she violated local codes when she put dinosaur sculptures in the backyard and made other landscaping changes that caused local officials to declare it a public nuisance. That it must be taken down.
In that same year, Fang retained the law offices of former San Francisco Mayor Joseph L. Alioto and Angela Alioto to respond to the Hillsborough Complaint – and then countersued them.
News outlets report that the aftermath of the “drama” of the lawsuit was settled in June 2021 this year after almost 2.5 years of legal battle, which allowed the modifications Fang extensively did to her property to stay. Ms. Fang was awarded $125,000 from the city as part of the settlement. The settlement also stipulates that the town will review and approve a survey of the landscaping improvements, and in turn, Fang will apply for those building permits.
If Fred Flintstone were to comment on said victory, he would probably be yelling: “YABBA DABBA DOO! WE WON!”
The whole thing plays like a Flintstones episode as it felt like it was “Fred Flintstone vs The Evil Bedrock Homeowner’s Association”. Some have said that the lawsuit from the town’s part against Fang’s private property felt petty, and a little bit “frivolous” just because the architecture was “different”. I wouldn’t mind living in it myself if I had enough money to buy the place. It’s Ms. Fang’s dream house, and I envy her for having something so delightfully unique!