In the market for a spaceship or jungle? Quirky Plum home for sale - Plum

In the market for a spaceship or jungle? Quirky Plum home for sale

Tuesday, May 19, 2020 | 5:20 PM


Strange noises are the first thing you notice when walking into Epoc I, the name of a Plum house that has been getting a lot of attention as of late.

Not just regular noises, like a creaking door or the shuffling of feet or the pleasantries exchanged between host and guest.

They are space noises and jungle noises. A Walkman CD player, powered by a small amplifier, loops otherworldly sounds. A large model of an alien greets guests as they enter the dining room.

And then your sense of sight gets smacked.

There’s not much to look at from the street at 480 Rainier Drive in Plum. In fact, the front of the house is blocked by tall bushes that line the street. But those taking a tour inside will be surprised to find a beach with sand, a spaceship with working dials salvaged from a helicopter, and a jungle.

John Cope, 74, the house’s quirky mastermind, listed the house with Berkshire Hathaway on May 16. Since publishing the listing on Zillow, the agent, Sam Pace, said he can’t keep up with the attention it’s getting.

According to Zillow, the listing has been viewed more than 1.6 million times and saved over 10,000 times.

“Never. I’ve never experienced any listing like this,” Pace said. He’s been in real estate for 15 years and said he brokers around 50 deals a year. He’s also never seen a house quite like Cope’s.

Cope calls his first-time guests “pilgrims.” That’s what Pace was when he walked in, Cope said.

“He and his wife went into it as pilgrims. They looked in awe. And they lost their brains. ‘Look at this …’ ‘That’s cool,’ they said. All pilgrim-like responses. And then they settled down and we got down to business,” Cope said.

Pace called his client “quirky.”

“Most people just call me (expletive) weird,” Cope said, during a tour of his house. “But quirky might be a little more socially acceptable. And some people say I have an overactive imagination. But I tell them I just have the misfortune of living in an underactive universe.”

Cope has lived in the three-bedroom, one-bath house since 1970, when he and his former wife bought it. They raised two daughters there. In 1993, they divorced. At the time, the house was “fairly conventional,” said Cope.

But one night, he had a few drinks and got to thinking.

“I was drunk and naked on the patio with a sketch pad. And I vomited out of my alcohol-besodden brain the plans that led to what you see now,” he said.

Cope said he woke up the next morning and decided he could swing his drunken sketches, which included converting the ranch-style home into a two-story oddities museum. He named his lair “Epoc I” because, spelled backward, it’s “I cope.”

The renovation began in 1994. Cope estimates it cost him around $35,000, all said and done. He said it didn’t come from a dark place in his life – it was just him “making sugar for his lemonade” (that he made from life’s lemons, as the saying goes).

Cope said his home, as it stands now – and what the next owner will inherit for somewhere around $160,000 – is based on “three basic themes.”

The first theme reflects a 15th-century castle, with a sunken floor and brick fireplace. The wood-beamed ceiling reveals a ladder that leads up to an elevated library containing science fiction paperbacks.

The historical spin to the theme reflects Cope’s interest in researching his family’s history, which he’s traced backto the Irish potato famine.

The second theme is a 25th-century spaceship. It includes the kitchen and dining room with the alien model. There are knobs and dials from old control panels and other gadgets. Hidden compartments reveal a VHS collection with “movies that were never digitized like ‘Over-sexed Rugsuckers from Mars,’ ” said Cope.

And the third theme takes you back to a 1920s and ‘30s Robinson Crusoe-style tropical island, made complete with sand and seashells. And a coconut shell, harpoon and driftwood.

There’s more to see, though. The backyard comes with a partially in-ground pool and adobe patio. Another bedroom has a water bed and 1970s hippie memorabilia – and paraphernalia. On the bed, Cope left a High Times magazine from June 1977, along with other vintage magazines from the era.

The bathroom is covered in plastic jungle leaves and fake animals — a lizard, raccoon, a butterfly and frogs — interspersed throughout the foliage.

Cope, a retired electrical engineer, said he used to host parties there with friends. It was an escape from a world with which he wasn’t particularly excited to interact.

“I like to say it’s kept the neighborhood safe because I’m never out on the streets,” he said.

But now, with the lawn overgrown and the ivy crawling up the brick, he wants out. He said he won’t miss it.

“It was fun,” he said. Quoting from one of his favorite movies, “Tank Girl,” he added: “It’s been swell, but the swelling’s gone down.”

“That’s pretty much my description of how I feel,” Cope said.

He now happily leases an apartment in Renton, where it only takes him 15 minutes to dust its surfaces.

“Have you ever tried to dust a jungle?” he said.

Cope knows the next owner will need to be unique.

So does his listing agent.

“I thought it’d take a long time to sell,” Pace said. But the listing’s popularity on the web give him hope a buyer is near.

Pace said the first people to tour Epoc I are scheduled to do so on May 23.