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Novelty architecture

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Novelty architecture is a travel topic.


Longaberger Basket Co. HQ

Novelty or mimetic architecture, as a form of commercial building or structure, often reflects the forms of people, animals or objects for sale (such as an oversized apple, orange, banana or hotdog-shaped restaurant). Some novelty buildings blatantly copy landmarks and monuments from other regions (such as an Eiffel Tower, were it copied and placed on the Las Vegas strip), employ unusual shapes or are constructed with unusual materials. As a promotional gimmick, novelty architecture in commercial buildings became popular soon after automobile travel became commonplace.

Novelty architecture produces usable buildings, distinguishing itself from statuary or architectural folly (in which a building is constructed as ruins, as sculpture, as visual art or as part of a "make-work project" where the finished product need not be functional). While most are intended as structures for occupancy, novelty versions of water towers or farm silos have also been constructed.


Brooks Catsup water tower
  • Brooks Catsup bottle, Collinsville (Illinois) USA — water tower which originally served a tomato ketchup factory near US Route 66.
  • Cabazon Dinosaurs, Cabazon near Palm Springs CA (USA) — oversize concrete dinosaurs originally constructed to promote a restaurant, now house a creationist museum and souvenir shop.
  • Gardens of Bomarzo, Lazio (Italy) — ornamental garden with various sculptures and monuments, including a castle.
  • Lucy, the Margate Elephant, near Atlantic City NJ (USA) — observation platform in six-story elephant-shaped building constructed in 1881, originally a restaurant and cottage.
  • World's Largest Dinosaur, Drumheller AB (Canada) — 25 metre (82') high observation platform in fibreglass-and-steel dinosaur.
  • World's Tallest Thermometer, Baker (California) USA — 134-foot electric sign commemorates a record 134⁰F (57⁰ Celsius) in Death Valley on July 10, 1913.


Blue Whale of Catoosa
  • Big Duck and Big Duck Ranch, Long Island NY (USA) — converted to 38.5 acre park and museum — a building in the form of an oversize concrete duck (originally in Riverhead, 1931) was a storefront for a Flanders commercial duck farm (marketing ducks and eggs). The duck has now migrated to the farm, which is a park, museum and picnic area.
  • Big Pineapple, Woombye, Sunshine Coast (Queensland), Australia — now an amusement park on what was originally a pineapple farm with a building-sized pineapple. One of many Big things in Australia.
  • Blue Whale of Catoosa, OK (USA) — Route 66 picnic area, originally a local swimming pond.
  • Uniroyal Giant Tire, Allen Park near Detroit MI (USA) — Huge Ferris wheel from 1964 NY World's Fair, disguised as an oversize motorcar tyre. No longer in use as a Ferris wheel, but preserved as an I-94 roadside attraction.


Mortar-and-pestle chemist's shop
  • Bondurant's Pharmacy, Lexington (Kentucky) USA — closed, now a liquor store — a former pharmacy (1974-2011) built in the shape of a giant 30', two-storey mortar and pestle; the pharmacist lived upstairs.
  • Longaberger Baskets headquarters, Newark (Ohio) USA — formerly housed offices for a basket company (1997-2014) in an oversize seven-story Longaberger Medium Market Basket. The actual baskets were sold by direct marketing or on-line; the company is now defunct.


"Mammy's Cupboard" on Hwy 61, Mississippi
  • The Big Apple, Colborne ON (Canada) — in use as a restaurant serving apple pie on the 401, a busy Toronto-Montréal freeway. The 10.7 metres (35 ft) tall red wooden apple includes an observation deck.
  • Big Chicken, Marietta (Georgia) USA — a chicken restaurant since 1963 (now a KFC) in which a 53-foot tower in the form of a chicken neck and beak stands above the rest of the structure.
  • Big Orange, Berri, Riverland, South Australia — Oversized fruit with a main-floor meeting room below a café and souvenir shop, observation deck on fourth floor. 15m tall, 12m diameter, opened 1980.
  • Mammy's Cupboard, Natchez Mississippi (USA) — in use as a restaurant serving lunch, sandwiches and homemade desserts.


  • The Giant Orange, Fontana CA (USA) — closed and preserved — a former roadside orange juice stand now maintained at 17890 Foothill Blvd (Route 66) by the Fontana Historical Society.


Hôtel de Glace, Quebec City
See also Sleep#Exotic hotels
  • Dog Bark Park Inn, Cottonwood (Idaho) USA — Oversize dog house (a pine guesthouse shaped like a giant beagle) as a B&B.
  • Hobbit Motel at Woodlyn Park, Otorohanga (Waitomo), New Zealand — Motel built into a hillside to appear as a series of "hobbit-holes" or Smials, traditional underground homes of the Tolkien characters, with distinctive round doors and windows. The same park offers novelty hotel rooms in a decommissioned train, aeroplane and WWII patrol boat.
  • Icehotel Jukkasjärvi in Sweden is the first of many hotels constructed entirely of ice. Others include: Igloo Village Kakslauttanen in Saariselka, The SnowCastle of Kemi and Snow Village Finland in Kittilä, Finland; Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, Alta and Kirkenes Snowhotel in Norway; Hotel of Ice in Bâlea Lac, Romania; Hôtel de Glace in Valcartier and Canada Snow Village in Montreal, Canada. All are rebuilt every winter as they melt every spring.
  • Red Caboose Motel or Caboose Inn, various cities — North American rail companies formerly included one extra car at the end of a train to house the crew. As these distinctive bright-red cabooses were decommissioned, a few were re-purposed as rail-themed novelty architecture. In one such motel, next to the National Toy Train Museum near Lancaster (Pennsylvania), each room is a caboose and the restaurant is a train's dining car.
  • Reino Fungi Lodge, Panguipulli, Chile — A three-story giant mushroom in a nature preserve.
  • Wigwam Motel, Cave City KY, Holbrook AZ and San Bernardino CA (USA) — three locations in use as tourist motels, where each room is a concrete teepee (like a wigwam, but with a pointed top) based on a formerly-patented design.

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