The Paper House

So, this Rockport, Massachusetts house features the mobile version of me for a reason: Built in 1922, this house is made of NEWSPAPERS. Since you can go inside to check out it anytime, mom left me at home, just in case this house was as fragile as it sounds.

(Also, my mom worked as a newspaper reporter for many years, so she wanted to be able to concentrate on how cool it all was.)

Ellis Stenman, a Swedish immigrant, started this newspaper house project as a hobby that wound up lasting 20 years. He began this experiment to see if newspapers could be sturdy and still retain their print. The log-like material he used was made by tightly rolling the paper, then adding glue at the end to secure it. He tied it with strings until it dried.

Intended as a summer cottage, the house does have a traditional wood frame and roof. But the walls and interior lining of the roof are all paper. The papers, with a varnish covering, have lasted nearly 100 years.

Outside walls and the roof interior are about 1/2″ thick. Marine grade varnish was used to harden and secure the paper surfaces. The exterior is treated yearly, but the interior still has its original coating.

About 100,000 newspapers were used to make the house and furniture. And if that’s not mind-blowing enough, some of the furniture pieces are even themed. The grandfather clock is made from capital cities’ newspapers of the then-48 states. A writing desk is made of newspapers detailing Col. C. Lindberg’s flight. A radio cabinet made in 1928 during Herbert Hoover’s presidential campaign.

The Stenmans occupied during the summers from 1924-1929, and yes, they used the furniture.

There’s a functional fireplace in the corner of the house, but it used to be a stove. The house had running water, but no bathroom. Outhouses were the norm of the day.

In his day job, Stenman was a mechanical engineer. He designed machines to make things out of wire, including paper clips and hook and eye closures for clothing.

We have lots more pictures of this place on our Instagram account. Come visit!

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