You have to See it To Believe it

The Paper House in Rockport demonstrates the modern trend of innovative building with recyclables. Or just the incredible amount of time on one person’s hands in the 1920’s.


We all know people who have serious hobbies to which they devote fantastical amounts of time.  But, how many of those hobbies are going to be around in 90 years?

If you want to see the fruits of someone else’s strange hobby, then you have to jaunt up to Rockport and check out the Paper House.

What is it?  Well, it’s a house, made out of paper.  The fairly unassuming house (I drove by it) is sitting atop a granite boulder/outcropping which is more impressive than the exterior of the place.  It also happens to be in someone’s front yard.   This house was meant to be a summer cottage build by Elis Stenman, a Swedish immigrant, over the course of 20 years.  The exterior of the cottage is coated in a varnish which his descendents re-apply each year.  The interior varnish has not been recoated since 1942.

The Stenman’s actually used this furniture when they were at their paper house in the summers, though according to the fact sheet provided, they probably only did this for 5 years. (1924-1929)  I’m unsure why they didn’t continue to use it after that,  though I could hazard a few guesses (The great Depression, Elis’ anger at other people possibly ruining his prize hobby…).

It also amuses me that amidst this spectacular accomplishment are several other accoutrements needed for hobbies – namely the radio, piano, and bookshelf.  I suppose one can’t roll paper logs all the time.

I bet this isn’t really a green building technique in the long run, but in some ways it does rank up there with using strawbales.  Well, perhaps it’s more equivalent to the green buildings feature on Greenbridge Architects (a Greater Boston green design company) blog about using  and tires, bottles and cans.    Regardless of all that, take the trip to Rockport and be impressed.

Author: Beth M

I love new ideas & information, connecting people, and discovering New England adventures.

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