What’s that lighted house off I-5 in Seattle?

George Freeman’s living room art is certainly not traditional, but the views of Lake Union are classic.

WHEN I GO Entering George Freeman’s Capitol Hill home, I’m not entirely surprised to find a pulpit tricked out with record players. However, I wasn’t expecting the illuminated portrait of Jesus in the bathroom.

My fellow travelers on I-5 northbound should know this home well. It’s all glass windows and colored lights, just east of the freeway near exit 168. On this late December afternoon, a pair of googly eyes and a trio of mannequins span the width of a second-story window, vertical streaks of magenta and blue light flashing along the angled exterior , and a lower deck railing bears the words “Science is God”. Every few months a new Reddit thread pops up with someone wondering about this.wild house on the side of I5.”

Freeman will be appearing soon wearing a navy track jacket and black baseball cap adorned with a logo for the Universal Life Church Monastery, an interfaith ministry that ordains people online. As founder and presiding minister, Freeman explains that his home is a de facto headquarters and meeting place. Here he holds ULC meetings and events, invites friends to watch the fireworks, hosts free wedding ceremonies and the like.

We chat a little, climb a narrow spiral staircase to the second floor and finally sit down at a table in an alcove that slopes in the same way towards Lake Union. Between magenta, purple and blue, the illuminated plexiglass floor serves as a horizontal window, not exactly for those with a head for heights or those who wear skirts. Outside, cars roll down I-5 in a blur of brake lights.

Freeman, who ran a controversial dance club for over-16s on Boren Avenue in the ’70s and ’80s (he’s also run for city council a few times, including last year), first bought the property in 2009. He was looking for a place to watch the Fourth of July fireworks over Lake Union. Since then, renovation work has been going on.

“I’m a contractor’s nightmare,” Freeman admits, “because I see ideas and I have visions and I’m like, ‘This is going to get better.'” During my visit, a handful of contractors — she and Freeman spoke the kind of intimacy that only time can tell – adjusting lights, fumbling with a switchboard, packing supplies.

The monastery, as Freeman calls his house, has three kitchens: a working one; one clad in wood and clad in maroon, copper, and gold; one a bright, striped showpiece. This last one, Freeman notes, has no oven or stove. “Looks like a kitchen but is actually a sacramental bar… We don’t mind having a little cold beer.”

Layers of art and furniture and paint fill the three floors of the home, with even more space at the back and on the rooftop terrace. Every room, every piece, it seems, Freeman has meticulously considered. Outdoor canopies came from a downtown restaurant. This whirlpool tub from China. Outdoor spaces are designed to maximize water and city views. The inner elevator — yes, there is an elevator — runs on air rather than hydraulics. Freeman even had his contractors climb the trees in his backyard to install solar-powered machines that emit high-frequency noise to ward off the crows that “shit on everything.”

As bohemian and eclectic as his home is, Freeman explains that there’s a reason: “We built it to be used Art as a means of proclaiming that we are all children of the same universe. When people try to find out who we are You will find out how we think, and I hope that everyone would take religion into their own hands and believe what they want, but you just can’t hurt anyone.”

His philosophy of religion – like the “Science is God” sign – is not always understood. A group at a local church once asked him if he would remove the sign, a request he declined. But Freeman doesn’t care. “People look at the sign,” he says, “and they get the message.”

As I leave Freeman’s house with a bottle of ULC Pinot Noir under my arm (he insists that Chona Kasinger, our photographer, and I take one each), I notice two teenagers in the planting strip across the street. They point to the house, take photos with their phones, and then head north chatting excitedly. The message seems to have been made.

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