When Dick Termes needed a place to create world-famous spheres, it was a no brainer to construct something as aesthetically pleasing as his art. Fast forward 20+ years and it is now one of the top-rated Airbnbs in Spearfish.
Nestled discreetly at the base of Spearfish Mountain, The Turtle House is a geodesic dome that at one time housed two art studios, one of which belonged to Dick, with the other belonging to his wife, Markie Scholz.
“My dad’s studio is still upstairs, so having the Airbnb in the same building is really unique for travelers,” said Lang Termes, singer/songwriter son of Dick and Markie.
The eccentricities don’t stop there, but actually continue throughout the entire property, starting at the road. A circular turtle sign welcomes guests down a long driveway that leads to the dome, passing a geodesic greenhouse and one of Dick’s earliest pieces.
“Having my dad’s art available for guests to see is just part of the experience,” said Lang.
The same turtle sign can be seen above the covered patio that marks the entrance to the rental. Complete with bike racks and a sliding glass door, Lang says the only inspiration needed for their construction was around them.
“We wanted to keep things as organic to the Black Hills as possible, which is why we used lumber harvested from the pine beetle epidemic for the pillars,” said Lang.
The indoor space is no different, with timber pillars, raw wood butcher block, and local photography adding to the space’s sense of hominess and comfort.
“We tried to keep things as raw as possible without it looking unfinished.”
“Most of our art is either from my dad or from my cousin, Bonny Fleming, a local photographer out here,” explained Lang.
Second to the art was the idea of combining coziness with the philosophy of tiny house living, which he says is to utilize space any way you can.
“We have some bunk beds in this nook area that are great for kids and raise our occupancy from two to four,” said Lang. “Our carpenter, Jeremiah Hansen, had the idea to make the awkward space into something useful.”
Amongst other great ideas, Hansen also voted to keep the elevated square already present on the ceiling. To the naked eye, it looks like an artistic centerpiece for the room. Lang says there is much more to it than architectural appeal.
“When my dad was first working on his spheres upstairs, he realized he couldn’t get them out of the door,” he said. “He actually cut a hole in the floor so he could drop them into my mom’s studio and take them out through the garage door, which used to be where the sliding doors are.”
“JEREMIAH WAS VERY WILLING TO DEAL WITH A BUNCH OF ARTISTS AND OUR CRAZY IDEAS.”
The “old but new” theme carries into the bedroom and the bathroom, which has a dual entry to increase the flow of the quaint space.
“Having two doors just makes it feel bigger,” said Lang. “Just like the larger-than-normal windows in the bedroom, it reflects the airiness of the hills.”
What The Shell?
The Termes believe the geodesic dome represents home, much like a shell does to a turtle.
While the geodesic dome and outdoor area are enough to intrigue guests for a stay or two, the proximity to trails paired with the juxtaposing isolation from other homes create a rare experience.
“We’re close enough to town that you can get there in 10 minutes, but once you’re here, you get a real cabin remoteness feeling,” said Lang. “There’s just absolutely amazing access to Spearfish Mountain, which is some of the best hiking and mountain biking around.”
1920 Christensen Dr., Spearfish
(605) 642-4805 termespheres.com
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Not much of a biker? Walk next door to the Termesphere Gallery, which houses Dick’s pieces, holds workshops, and offers lectures about his artistic process.
“We are going to start offering an Airbnb package that allows guests to visit the gallery and Dad’s studio,” said Lang. “We just want to create the best experience we can.”