This 80-Year-Old Massachusetts House Is Made Entirely out of Paper

The Paper House in Rockport, MA
The Paper House in Rockport, MA | © Danielle Walquist Lynch / Flickr

The Paper House, located in Rockport, Massachusetts, started just like any other house—with a frame, floors, and a roof. However, that’s where the similarities end.

Though the house looks like a red cabin from the outside, it (including its furniture) is entirely made out of 100,000 varnished newspapers.

Elis F. Stenman built the Paper House, which he started in 1922, and lived there during summers until 1930. A mechanical engineer, he conceived the idea out of sheer curiosity: What would happen to a home made of paper? Would it last?

Why Stenman chose newspaper is unclear, but it was cheap (at two cents) and considered a good material for insulation in the 1920s. It took 215 layers of newspaper stuck together with a homemade glue of flour, water, and apple peels to make the walls. The varnished newspaper stack runs one-inch deep on all four walls.

Almost everything inside the house is also made from varnished newspapers—the beaded curtains, grandfather clock, desk, and chair. The fireplace and piano, however, are technically just covered in the material.

The grandfather clock includes a newspaper from every state in the United States (which only had 48 states at the time).

Today, Stenman’s grandniece, Edna Beaudoin, maintains the house (with “lots of varnish”) and runs tours. The Paper House is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from spring to early fall. The admission fees are currently $2.00 for adults and $1.00 for children. Stop by to visit the home, and then spend the rest of your day in the beautiful, coastal town of Rockport.

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