Grandfather Clock.

Paper House

Field review by the editors.

Rockport, Massachusetts

This small, oddball home has been a local attraction since 1929. It's perched in a neighborhood on the rocky coast of Cape Ann, northeast of Boston. Similar to its Texas cousin, the Beer Can House, the Paper House is a novel wall covering and furnishing effort on an otherwise normal domicile. Our questions about what happens to a "paper" house in a rainstorm are answered once we arrive -- the place has a regular tar and shingle roof.

Elis F. Stenman, with the assistance of his family, began the construction of the Paper House in 1922. For the next twenty years, the Stenmans layered and and pasted and rolled approximately 100,000 newspapers to use in the creation of their two-room dream home. What started as an experiment in novel construction materials yielded paper tables, chairs, lamps, and bookshelves.

The walls are made of 215 layers of newspaper. Most of the exterior layer type is completely readable, and Paper House visitors can spend hours perusing classic headlines and snippets of articles.

There is a writing desk made from accounts of Charles Lindbergh's transatlantic flight, and a radio cabinet plastered with news from Herbert Hoover's presidential campaign. A real piano is covered with paper rolls.

Close-up of clock news rolls.
Close-up view of rolled up newspapers from state capitals.

The grandfather clock includes mastheads (or "flags") from the capital city newspapers of all (then) 48 states.

The threat of fire to so flammable a structure doesn't seem to keep the Paper House owners (who live next door in a regular house) awake at night.

Note: Cape Ann was the site of the infamous "Dogtown," a deserted village taken over by evil crones and toothless witches in the early-19th century.

Paper House

Address:
52 Pigeon Hill St., Rockport, MA
Directions:
I-95 to Hwy 128 towards Gloucester, then MA 127 (not 127A) toward Rockport. In the Pigeon Cove section, take first Curtis Street turn to the left, then left on Pigeon Hill St., up hill on right.
Hours:
Daily Apr - Oct. (Call to verify)
Phone:
978-546-2629
Admission:
Adults $1.50, Children $1 (Honor System)
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Dogtown Ghost Town and Babson BouldersDogtown Ghost Town and Babson Boulders, Gloucester, MA - 3 mi.
Big Lobster TrapBig Lobster Trap, Gloucester, MA - 4 mi.
Man at the WheelMan at the Wheel, Gloucester, MA - 5 mi.
In the region:
Castle Built by Father of Remote Control, Gloucester, MA - 7 mi.

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November 29, 2014

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