Mushroom House history on display at Town Hall

Messenger Post Media
Monroe County Post

A curated collection of items related to the history of the Mushroom House is on display at the entrance to Perinton Town Hall, 1350 Turk Hill Road. 

The Perinton Historical Society and town historian Bill Poray worked with local resident Nancy Slaybaugh, whose parents built the home, to gather items, photos and mementos for this collection. 

While many photos and video tours of the iconic home can be found online, there are some fascinating and little-known tidbits about its construction. Slaybaugh shared her first-hand knowledge of the building process and the original intent of the home. Her parents, Robert and Marguerite Antell, commissioned architect Jim Johnson to build the house in 1969.

The house became a “way of life” for Slaybaugh’s parents. From the start, they outlined the idea of a sculptural and organic structure in their handwritten notes to Johnson. He brought their vision to life, replicating the home’s shape after the common weed Queen Anne’s lace.

Construction on the home took two years, with the intent to finish by Slaybaugh’s wedding, which was to be hosted in one of the pods. They wrapped up a few last-minute projects the morning of the ceremony. 

Out of an abundance of caution, wedding guests were evenly distributed around the room because a pod had crashed and fallen over in early construction. The broken pod is buried under the structure that stands now. 

The original home had five large circular pods, four with living spaces and one patio pod without a roof. During construction, each pod was made on location from custom molds and supported by reinforced concrete stems. A crane was used to lift each stem and pod and set it in place. Each concrete roof was built on top, making the pods weigh about 90 tons each.

Marguerite Antell put immense thought and purpose into designing the interior of each pod and room. Every detail was thought out, down to matching the sand stucco on the walls to the sand around the property. The floors consist of 9,000 earth-tone ceramic tiles, all handmade and fired by Marguerite. She rolled the clay by hand, cut them into 4-inch squares and then textured, glazed and fired them — a process that required her to handle each tile 10 separate times.

In 1969, Marguerite wrote a letter to Johnson detailing that she wanted a home “beyond their imagination,” a home that would require them to grow to “catch up” with its design concept and give them an exciting adventure in the years to come.

Her letters also show the bond between the Antells. Marguerite requested her ceramics studio be close to Robert’s office, so they could be near each other even while working separately. Every detail, design and purpose was thought out and imagined by the Antells. 

The Mushroom House was declared a Perinton Historic Landmark in 1989. The Park Road residence near Powder Mills Park has been bought and sold several times.

Robert and Marguerite Antell worked with Rochester architect Jim Johnson to build the Mushroom House, which was modeled after the common weed Queen Anne’s lace.