Paper House made for humans in Rockport, MA

I’ll admit that I can’t resist falling for any local attractions with clever names.  When we went up to the quaint Rockport, MA and I read about a Paper House on the list of local attractions, I had to make a stop.  The house is located in a middle of a residential neighborhood.  You probably won’t realize it’s there if not for the signs put along the surrounding intersections from the main street.


As you’re getting closer to the house, you really wouldn’t be thinking ‘paper’.  It really looked like a typical one-story small house.  It’s only when you get close enough to see the fine details on the exterior, then you realize this is something special.

As soon as you enter the house, you’ll be greeted with the typical furniture inside any house.  Not to be fooled, all the pieces of furniture are made of logs of rolled up newspaper.

One of the most impressive piece of furniture was this grandfather clock!  It’s grand as you’d expect a grandfather clock to be.  What a beauty!

The clock was made with paper from the capital of each state (48 back then).  How did the builder get a paper from each state, you asked.  Well, a neighbor wrote to each capital city and requested a paper for this project.  Look at this paper I found from 1932.

More pictures of this unique collection of furniture.


Now, if you probably had similar questions like I had before my visit, here is some answers provided by the conservation group:
Q: Did anyone live here?

Absolutely.  The house was used during the summers between 1924 – 1929.

Q: Where is the kitchen?

There was a stove where the fireplace is now.  The house had running water but not bathroom.  OUthouses were used back then.

Q: Is the house all paper?

No, the house was meant as a summer cottage, there is a traditional wood frame and roof.  The wall material and the interior lining of the roof are paper.  The paper was used as insulation.  The paper then is applied with a varnish covering.  It has been sturdy enough to have survived all the winters since 1924.

Q:  Who did it and WHY?

A mechanical engineer named Ellis Stenman started the project in 1922.  The land was purchased to be used as a summer retreat.  The experiment started to see if newspapers could be sturdy and still retain the print.  It look him 20 years!

It’s really an impressive artistic expression. I don’t know if I can ever be talked into living in a house with furniture only made of logs of newspaper.  But hey, he probably had a very understanding wife.

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