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The Writing's on the Wall

May 26, 1996|HELENE A. MATT | Reprinted by permission from Fine Homebuilding

The writing is on the wall. And the ceiling. And on the mantel, the grandfather clock, the piano, the daybed, the radio and just about everywhere in the Paper House of Pigeon Cove, Mass.

Begun in 1922 by Swedish immigrant and engineer Elis F. Stenman, the Paper House has a wood frame covered with 100,000 newspapers. Stenman began the house as an experiment to see what could be done with newsprint. Thanks to an annual coat of varnish, the experiment has lasted more than 70 years.

Walls of the Paper House are constructed of 215 thicknesses of newspaper pasted, folded and tacked to wood lath with upholstery nails.

All of the furnishings are made with paper too. For instance, a writing desk is made of newspapers that reported the transatlantic flight of Charles Lindbergh. Another desk is made from copies of the Christian Science Monitor, the mantel is made from the Boston Sunday Herald and New York Tribune, and the grandfather clock is made of front pages from papers in what were then the 48 states.

The furniture was made by tightly rolling the newspaper and stacking the rolls together, giving it the appearance of cane or bamboo.

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