The Weirdest Home In Texas Now Is – A Vacation Rental?

One of the country’s most unique works of architecture is being transformed into a vacation rental in West Texas, making those who appreciate its artistic form raise eyebrows at the prospect.

The Steel House, an unfinished structure that Dallas Morning News Architecture critic Mark Lamster describes it as “a four-legged body of blackened steel perched on a scruffy ridge”, is being turned into an Airbnb or VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) for possible rental.

“This is our vision,” said Blake Bartosh, an agent for Taylor Reid Realty, who bought the house with his wife, Courtney.

The Steel House, which overlooks Ransom Canyon Lake east of Lubbock, was a more than three-decade passionate project by artist Robert Bruno, who died of cancer in 2008. Bruno built the 110-ton biomorphic structure by hand and lived there for seven years. months before his death. It remained vacant.

Robert Bruno stands beside his Steel House construction in Ransom Canyon, a residential community near Lubbock, TX(Courtesy Robert Bruno / Robert Bruno hangs above)

“Anything that has been done or will be done should be done with Bruno’s care and spirit in mind,” said Urs Peter Flueckiger, Acting Dean of Texas Tech School of Architecture. University. “Unfortunately, we don’t own it, or don’t have a foundation that would help protect it. “

Last year, the Bartoshees bought the structure for an undisclosed amount from Bruno’s daughter Christina, who in 2015 said The news that she wanted him to “stay with the family”.

But it still changed hands and added another chapter to the structure’s legacy.

The Bartoshes put it on the market for $ 1.75 million, according to Realtor.com, but they took it down to prepare for its reincarnation as a rental. Blake Bartosh has not offered a timeline for when the structure, which has around 2,000 feet of floor space, would be ready. In October, the Bartoshe created a Facebook page to track the progress of the home’s renovation.

Lake Ransom Canyon is seen through the interior window of Robert Bruno's Steel House.  Bruno died in 2008 and the house is unoccupied and unfinished in a residential community near Lubbock, TX.  28 October 2014 02012015xARTSLIFE 05032015xLUXE
Lake Ransom Canyon is seen through the interior window of Robert Bruno’s Steel House. Bruno died in 2008 and the house is unoccupied and unfinished in a residential community near Lubbock, TX. 28 October 2014 02012015xARTSLIFE 05032015xLUXE(Troy Oxford / Troy Oxford / Staff)

Henry Martinez, a Lubbock businessman who considered himself a volunteer house keeper from 2008 through September 2021, said he was not in favor of the transformation.

“I don’t think a work of art like this – in which a man spends half his life transforming into something that is well respected around the world – should be made into anything. , an Airbnb, ”said Martinez, a longtime friend of Bruno’s. “But, again, there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Martinez said he believes it won’t be easy to make the Steel House out of the box or “habitable” due to its design, including an open deck.

“I find it hard to believe that it is going to be changed or structured to adopt safety regulations by the city or an insurance company,” he said. “Maybe I’m wrong. New owners are real estate people, and I’m sure they know how to get things done. But I see a lot of problems.

Flueckiger said he hopes the creative integrity of the house will be taken into account.

“Whatever has been done, it should be done with Bruno’s care and spirit in mind,” said Flueckiger. “Unfortunately, we don’t own it, or don’t have a foundation that would help protect it. “

Mark Gunderson, a student architect and friend of Bruno’s, agreed.

“This house deserves a benefactor or a foundation that could give it the care and attention it deserves,” he told The News last year when his sale became known. “His loss to the real estate market would be incomprehensible and tragic.”

The sun sets over Robert Bruno's Steel House in Ransom Canyon, a residential community east of Lubbock, TX.
The sun sets over Robert Bruno’s Steel House in Ransom Canyon, a residential community east of Lubbock, TX. (Troy Oxford / Troy Oxford / Staff)

Flueckiger said he had not spoken to the new owners, but would “certainly offer my advice” on interpreting Bruno’s vision. Simple aesthetic touches would advance Bruno’s design, such as furniture specific to the theme of the house.

“What you have to understand is that when he had a piece of furniture, he built and designed the furniture,” Flueckiger said. “You have to think of Bruno who does everything with thought. “

Martinez, who inherited half of his current business from Bruno, said he had a personal investment in the Steel House.

“It’s something I did for my boss, my friend – just trying to continue his legacy,” he said.

The sun sets over Robert Bruno's Steel House in Ransom Canyon, a residential community east of Lubbock, Texas.
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