‘House of the Future:’ Why is there a UFO on top of this Florida strip club?

Those driving along Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa may see an unusual sight: a UFO sitting on top of a local strip club.

But what these drivers might not know is that this UFO is one of only two “Futuro Houses” that can be found in Florida.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the UFO atop that strip club — aptly dubbed “2001 Odyssey” — was originally intended to be the “House of the Future.”

However, the creator didn’t have nude women in mind when he conceived of these strange buildings.

These prefabricated structures were rolled out by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen toward the end of the 1960s, around when the Apollo 11 mission landed on the moon.

At the time, Suuronen was reportedly commissioned to create a mobile “ski chalet” — something like a small vacation home — that could endure harsh weather conditions.

Fiberglass saucers were posited as an idea, and so these 12,000-pound Futuro Houses were constructed and sold to buyers (either furnished or by shell alone).

The small buildings measure around 500 square feet of living space, being supported by steel legs and with enough room to house eight people for a night if needed.

In addition, Futuro Houses featured a retractable door hatch that could be operated at the push of a button.

While the homes were sold in Finland initially, subsidiaries opened abroad to bring these Futuro Houses to new lands — including one here in Florida.

Shortly after the homes were introduced to the market, mobile home salesman Jerry DeLong opened Futuro of Florida in Clearwater (at what is now a local branch for Grow Financial Credit Union).

Unfortunately for DeLong, the homes didn’t quite take off with consumers, and the company responsible for producing American Futuro homes went out of business by 1975.

While not overly popular, a few did sell — such as was the case with Gwendolyn Zerby, a woman in her 70s who was looking for a home that kept her safe and didn’t need much maintenance.

“The Futuro’s retractable door was advertised as burglar-proof, and its curved fiberglass walls could supposedly protect her from winds up to 200 mph,” the Tampa Bay Times reported.

The house became a popular attraction among passersby, with some reports recounting that traffic would slow along the street while driving past the strange home. However, Zerby died in 1979, and it was later abandoned before the city scrapped it.

But that leaves a burning question: how did another of these strange UFOs get on top of the 2001 Odyssey?

According to management at the club, the UFO was already there when Pasquale Matassini — the owner of several other Tampa bars — bought the place.

Before then, DeLong (the Futuro of Florida manager) had been in charge of the club, and he’d been the man responsible for having one of the Futuro Houses placed on the roof — the same display that had been used at his Clearwater dealership.

Since he sold the club, it’s undergone several renovations — including color-changing outdoor lights around six or seven years ago.

The interior of the UFO has also been outfitted to fit in with the club’s sci-fi theming.

Futuro enthusiast Simon Robson, who hosts a website dedicated to tracking down Futuro House locations, explained that there are over 60 of these Futuro Homes worldwide — and only 18 in the U.S. alone.

Aside from the Tampa Bay club, there exists only one other Futuro House in Florida. It can be found along Panferio Drive in Pensacola Beach.

According to Robson, this home has been there since at least 1971, being a huge tourist attraction in the area. Historically, it’s also been dressed up as a pumpkin around Halloween thanks to its peculiar shape.

Regardless, there are plenty of other strange Futuros littered across the U.S. For a full list of their known locations, click here.

You can also check out plenty of other stories about Central Florida’s strange and unique landmarks on ClickOrlando’s Florida Fables page.

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