The Paper House
If you drive up Pidgeon Hill Street in Rockport, you may not notice anything unusal about the house at #52. It's a charming little brown cottage with a wrap around porch & a peaked roof, and it fits in perfectly with the neighborhood. The only giveaway is the sign on the front: 'Paper House'.
When you walk on the porch, you can detect that this truly is a paper house. With the exception of a wooden frame, roof. and floors, the house is made almost entirely of newspapers. That that includes furniture, lamps, curtains, a mantel and even the piano.
Elis Stenman, a mechanical engineer, dreamed up this rather eccentric project in the early 1920's as a test of the strength and insulating properties of newspaper and the durability of newsprint. By golly, it worked.
Mr. Stenman enlisted the help of family to 'build' his dream home. For 20 years, they worked together rolling, pasting, and folding more than 100,000 newspapers. It took them two years to finish the house, and 18 years to make all the paper tables, chairs, bookcases, lamps, and desks. From 1924 to 1929, the Paper house served as the family's summer cottage.
Curious townspeople have been visiting the Paper House since the 1920's and it was turned into a museum after Mrs. Stenman dies in 1942. It remains open to the public today, run by Mr. Stenman's grandneice Edna Beaudoin, who lives next door.
The walls are made of 215 layers of newspapers, with several coats of varnish to preserve them. Every fall, the outside walls receive another coat of varnish to protect them from the harsh New England weather.
Interior walls and furniture are fun to read, and give ineteresting tidbits of life and news in the 1920's. In addition, most furniture pieces are themed - a writing desk is made from newspapers recounting Charles Lindbergh's 1927 solo flight.
AAA Horizons - July 2005
10:00am - 5:00pm
Daily from April 1 to October 31
Adults - $1.50
Kids 12 & under - $1.00
Honor System Donation
Let yourself into the house, turn out the lights when you leave, and drop your donation through the mail slot next door.
52 Pidgeon Street, Rockport, MA, 01966 map
Phone: (978) 546-2629
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