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Get out your Ouija boards and crystal balls. That’s what it might take to solve the double past lives of  these unique homes.

On the outside, they all have the appearance of single-family homes. But upon closer investigation, it’s pretty clear these interesting structures were originally designed for different purposes, and were home to other sorts of tenants — like school kids, congregants and even missiles!

Don’t believe us? Step inside!

Missile Silo Home

127 Standish Rd, Saranac NY (below)
For sale: $750,000

Want the ultimate conversation piece? How about living in a home on the Saranac real estate market that was once secure enough to hold a missile (above). Although there is a small, “decoy” home above ground, the main living areas lie 35 feet underground in a nuclear- and earthquake-proof space. Once the missile command center, the area has been transformed into a comfortable space with 4 bedrooms, kitchen, and living room. The home also includes an 180-foot deep silo space that once held the U.S. military’s Atlas missile.

Former Firehouse

117 Broad St, San Francisco CA
Recently sold: $875,000

Like the painted lady row houses in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, here’s a home that is a different kind of painted lady. Built in 1896, this San Francisco home (above) was formerly a neighborhood fire station, painted with a bright red door and trim. Clues to its past still remain inside the 2-bedroom, 4,000-square-foot-home today — including a fireman’s pole. The home sold for $875,000 in December 2010.

Schoolhouse Rock

1381 Knopp School Road, Fredericksburg, TX
For sale: $2.3 million

This stunning property in Fredericksburg, TX (above) gives little hint to its historic past as a schoolhouse and teacher’s residence. The 4,870-square-foot limestone home has been generously expanded and features an open floor plan with high ceilings and enormous glass sliding doors that lead to patios and the rectilinear pool.

Guest Caboose

1756 Defoor Ave NW, Atlanta GA
For sale: $395,000

A classic bungalow in Atlanta is attractive enough on its own, but it comes with the added bonus of an unusual guest house that is a cozy as, well, a caboose! Painted and completely renovated, the caboose guest house has a kitchenette, small living area and nook-sized bedroom.

Modern Wares

1121 Delano St, Houston TX
Currently off the market

The steel, concrete and pipes of a warehouse (above) were transformed into chic accents for this modern home on the Houston real estate market. Built as a warehouse in the 1960s, the home has been customized into a 4,704-square-foot living space with high ceilings and large windows.

Barn-livin’

10 Albert Ave, Barrington RI
For sale: $339,000

No need to make room for farm animals in this barn. The Barrington, RI home (above) was once a Civil War-era barn and much of that character was retained in the renovation. Built in 1865, the barn was converted to a “sunlight” 3-bedroom home in 1996.

Former Storefront

2116 N Leavitt St, Chicago IL
For sale: $895,000

This storefront Chicago property (above) was home to several different kinds of shops over the years, but it has settled into its latest incarnation as a single-family home. The attractive conversion can’t hide its past, though, which is nice given its dramatic 20-foot-ceilings, “restaurant-grade” kitchen and roof-top terrace.

Forest Ranger Station

22707 Covey Ln, Rathdrum ID
For sale: $359,000

Not only is this cabin nearly 100 years old, it was also once a forest ranger station serving the Sawtooth Wilderness, declared by the U.S. government to have “the clearest air in the continental United States.” The converted 3-bedroom home sits on a third of an acre and includes beach access to the Twin Lakes.

Unique Church

2007 NW 61st St, Seattle WA
Pending sale: $789,000

When it was first constructed in 1907, this church served as a religious gathering place for decades – that is, until a couple of artists bought it and decided to transform the Seattle property into a home that showcases their art and whimsical collections. The details include a tricycle wall, a giant swing in the former sanctuary and a baptismal font-turned-bathroom. (See more about the Ballard Big House).

Factory Flair

26 Stillman St Apt 2-1, Boston MA
For sale: $649,000

Many East Coasters have taken advantage of the brick and stone warehouses left over from an industrial age long gone, turning them into luxury condos and apartments. This condo for sale in Boston (above) is located in a former furniture factory and warehouse. The 2-bedroom, 1.5-bath condo has 12-foot high ceilings, recessed lighting and an updated kitchen with gas range and granite countertops.

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About the Author

Erika Riggs, the Zillow Digs manager, covers home design and trends.

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