Art or war? You decide.
I recently spent time inside a controversial spaceship talking to the mysterious UFO owner of this flying saucer, LeRoy Reynolds of Buxton. I think this shoot takes the hashtag #FearlessPhotographer to a whole new level. Mr Reynolds is quite upset and worried about what is going to happen to this legendary historical landmark on Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Dare County is trying to shut down his dream, livelihood and spirit, not to mention years of great memories for many visitors and local residents of Hatteras Island.
LeRoy Reynolds is a Grunt Marine Corp Vet with an honorable discharge who now resides in Buxton, NC, during the islands on season, spending most of his days at his spaceship in Frisco, NC. In the winter he goes home to Beaufort, NC to fulfill his love and livelihood of bow hunting. With his family in tow, wife, daughter and his grandson.
Mr Reynold’s was born in Canton, PA and raised by his grandparents. He went into the Marine Corps on his 18th Birthday and was stationed out of Camp LeJune North Carolina. He was in the Marine Corps Weapons Company. He traveled all over South America on the US LSD29, SS Plymouth Rock a troop carrier, with his bow and his fishing pole. When he was 21 he was out on one year of inactive duty, he was ordered 4 years active and 2 years inactive duty.
Once out of the Marine Corps he went back to Pennsylvania and became a geographical contractor for Exxon Oil for two years. He then worked at a sawmill Black Bear Trust Co for four years. The owner of the sawmill raised a bear from a cub named Teddy. Reynolds said he used to ride around with a real black bear in the work truck until it was about 350 to 400 pounds and could no longer fit in the truck. He said one night they gave the bear a beer and he ended up biting a guy who worked at the sawmill so they had to get rid of him. Reynolds said “I tell you one thing, no one ever stole anything from the company truck.”😂 🤣
While he worked at the sawmill he had two jobs the other at Thermacore. As well as so many jobs in between because “It took money to do stuff,” says Reynolds. Around 1993 he gave his two weeks notice with the Overhead Door Corp and headed to Hatteras Island with Frisco in mind. He made it as far as Avon and saw the Midgett Realty building was about to begin construction. He landed a job with Jeff Latamere of Latamere Construction. He stayed at the Avon Cottages with his buddy Earl Younce.
When hurricane Emily hit in 1993 he decided that he and 13 of his buddies from PA were going to start lifting houses on the island. He found himself in trouble as he did not have insurance to do so. He was shut down and told he could no longer lift houses only trailers. He worked on at least 100 houses on the island. He then worked for Ted Midgett at the Hatteras Marlin Motel. In 2012 LeRoy became owner of his spaceship. For almost 6 years now the flying saucer and alien suit have been his livelihood, hobby, passion and dream. He has dumped money, time, love, sweat and tears into maintaining it.
During our interview he wore the martian costume in extreme 90 degree humid island temperatures inside the non air conditioned spaceship. When he took off the suit his clothing was saturated in perspiration. I asked LeRoy how he has done it for years with no AC just to boost the morale for island visitors and passers by? He said he wears ice packs and stays hydrated. You may see him driving around the island in his 1979 El Camino.
A brief introduction to the history of the iconic prefabricated house of the 1960’s, designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen. This Futuro Home built in 1968 is one of less then 50 left in the world. Strange and obscure, imagine what the architect was thinking when he built this engineering marvel. Advertised for sale in 1970’s “PLAYBOY”Magazine, a six page spread on the ultimate bachelor pad the “Portable Playhouse.” So much history lies behind this Hatteras Island gem.
Dr. Lee Russo and his wife Mary Jane from Baltimore purchased it from “Whole Earth” catalog in 1972. Mrs. Russo said “I never thought deeply about it, I saw it I liked it and I bought it.” When the Futuro style homes came along, they created curiosity and eliminated fear of the unknown. It kept people on their toes. The original door of the ship was an electromagnetic hatch with a button, when pushed the door popped open. Less then 100 Futuro homes were sold. Once the oil crisis came in 1973 production of the futuro homes stopped due to the price of fiberglass. Today there are less then 13 flying saucer homes left in the United States.
Once bought or sold, the home was transported by flat bed or helicopter. During delivery to Hatteras Island the problems with Dare County began. Everyone who has ever had something to do with the ownership of the futuro home has had to hire an attorney.
The crane dropped it when it was delivered on site in Hatteras Village in 1972 and caused a crack that resides in the bottom to this day. Once the ship was delivered to Hatteras Village Dr Russo and his wife had a hard time finding contractors to work on it and put it together because no one knew what to do with it or wanted to be responsible. Once put together it was in view of the Ocracoke Ferry. The futuro home was the home of the future in the former days of wonder. Check out the video below with interviews from the original owners of the Hatteras Island futuro home.
Visitors would spot the unique flying saucer from the ferry and stop in all hours of the day and night and ask to come inside. On March 19, 1983 it was “the end of an era” according to Mrs. Russo. They donated it to the Buxton Volunteer Fire Department to use as an office. Hatteras Island Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts would use it as a meeting hall. The fire department was eventually going to use it in a practice fire. They decided they would be better to auction it off for money. They sold it to the owners of Scotch Bonnet whom turned it into an apartment for the employees of Scotch Bonnet to live in for the summer season. Next the old “Monitor Newspaper” rented as an office. It was even an office for the campground. Eventually, it became a hotdog stand with martian cutouts along Route 12, called “Out of this World Hot Dogs,” until 1998.
LeRoy Reynolds the current owner, purchased the Futuro Home in 2012 for $1800, the price of the heat pump while James Bagwell II was on vacation in the Caribbean. Once receiving permission from Bagwell, they moved it to where it sits now, onto Mr Bagwell’s property on the left side of route 12 in Frisco as you head south towards Hatteras Village.
Mr Reynolds said he has been offered up to $100,000 for the spaceship. It has withstood hurricane’s and noreaster’s on the island since 1972. Reynolds painted the then green ship, silver and called it a spaceship. “The shiny aluminum silver paint reflects its environment and is sympathetic to the natural landscape of Hatteras Island,” stated photographer Peter Mosely.
For years visitors from all over the world have traveled to see this rare architectural site hoping for a glimpse of the mysterious alien whom was spotted inside the window or waving to traffic and hanging outside the spaceship. Thousands of cars weekly during the summer season pull over waiving, photographing, mooning, flashing and stopping to see this intriguing structure or have photographs taken with the alien. For ten years the alien remained a mystery. No one knew who was inside the costume. Reynolds says his goal is to get people to smile and laugh when they drive by or stop at the spaceship. He has been boosting the island morale for years. People leave with a memory and a smile and something unique to remember their trip to Hatteras Island.
“Most of the things currently in the futuro house were gifts for the alien. There are drawings, art notes, stuffed animals from the children. The alien can look at them and remember when they where left and WHO left them some were left on the steps of the ship or slipped under the door. The ship is full if memories and if the county has its way that’s all that will be left is memories,” Reynold’s explains.
Even famous people such as; Cher, Three Dog Night, Ted Nugent, Jack White from The White Stripes, Rob Dyrdeck and his “Jack Ass” Crew, John Boy from the show “The Walton’s”, Larry The Cable Guy, Nascar Drivers, and many many many TV personalities and public figures have stopped in to hang out with the alien in the spaceship. The spaceship has woven it’s way through many lives since its appearance on the Outer Banks in 1972.
For years now Mr Bagwell and Mr Reynolds have been fighting with the county and been served many stop work orders for various things, such as inadequate parking to having to many people inside. Most recently the county called LeRoy on June 20, 2017, after he placed a porta potty on the property to use while he works on restoring it. He presented a speech at the town hall meeting last Monday regarding the future of the futuro home.
Currently Dare county will not allow anyone to go into the spaceship and told LeRoy he is to cease all work and not to touch it. (See the image of the county paper work below.) After a long and winding road with the county, he is ready to put up a fight once and for all. Similar to Andy Warhol’s art museum in a futuro home, LeRoy wants to continue the memories and putting smiles on visitors faces with the memory of the Frisco UFO and his home in the spaceship. A nonprofit art museum if anything.
Please help save our ship (#sos) and sign this petition by clicking the link below, to save one of the greatest icons on the Outer Banks from a heavy-handed and out of control planning commission!
Scroll down and take a look inside of the Hatteras Island Futuro Home in Frisco, NC.
Click on the following video for interviews with the original owners and other islanders for more information on the futuro home of Hatteras Island.