An inside look at Charleston's 'Hurricane House,' built to withstand another Hugo
Along with thousands of other South Carolinians, the late Caleb and Helen Paul lost their Sullivan's Island home to Hurricane Hugo in 1989, a storm that the National Weather Service says will ever be remembered as one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in history.
That's when their son George Paul, a designer and builder, constructed its replacement — an orb-shaped, domed home 300 feet from the Atlantic Ocean built to withstand a Category 4 storm.
Now, for the first time in its 27-year history, this often photographed home is on the market — at an asking price of $4.9 million. The sale is being handled by agent Michael Royal of Pareto Real Estate, who is Caleb and Helen Paul's grandson.
It's unofficially known as the Hurricane House, but officially is called "Eye of the Storm." It was featured in a 2008 posting on Monolithic.org, a website dedicated to monolithic dome homes, from an original 1998 article.
The article quotes Paul saying the house cost about $600,000 to build. A recent Charleston Post & Courier article estimated that cost closer to $1 million. The 2017 Charleston County tax records list the market value at $2.7 million with yearly taxes a tad over $10,000 for the 3,808-square-foot dwelling.
According to the real estate report, the three-bedroom, five-bath home's reinforced concrete domed structure is estimated to weigh 650 tons.
Besides the dome allowing high winds to sweep over the top of the structure, the home features several ginormous openings on the ground level to allow cars to park and, if necessary, storm surge and its ensuing debris to pass through. On the main floor, a deck offers stunning views of the ocean.
An elevator at ground level delivers you to a third-floor master bedroom with an oceanview deck of a bit more than 150 square feet. There is also a deck off the den.
The real estate listing says the house recently was remodeled but says it retains a majority of its original looks. The kitchen and baths boast the biggest overhaul when comparing photos from the 1990s.
The listing also mentions a bank vault behind the pantry in the kitchen for storing valuables.
While the structure was built to withstand the destructiveness of another Hurricane Hugo, whether it can is unknown. Since 1995, the largest storm to threaten South Carolina was Hurricane Matthew in 2016, a storm that skirted the coast as a Category 1.