Wait until you see this unusual house made completely out of newspaper called The Paper House in Rockport, Massachusetts. It is not a green house or re-purposed house of today. The Paper House was built in 1924 by Mr. Elis F. Stenman who was a mechanical engineer that designed machines that made paper clips. He started building his summer home out of paper as a hobby and it is still standing. There is a long interview on The Paper House website with his grandniece, who now runs the Paper House that is open for tours.
The house framework, floors, and roof are all wood. The walls are made of pressed paper about an inch thick made by many layers of newspaper, glue, and varnish on the outside making it water-proof. But wait, he did not stop there, Mr. Elis Stenman also made furniture out of half-inch thick small rolls of paper cut to various sizes and glued or nailed together.
Bewilderment, wonder, and wacky house made of paper! Is it any wonder there are daily tours? A hobby that turned into newspaper hoarding or OCD would be today’s headlines. The patience it took to accomplish this is maddening.
Per the interview, the porch was not an original structure of the house and was added in the early 30s to protect the bottom of the Paper House walls. The outside walls have been re-varnished over the years, but the inside walls have not been re-varnished. Re-varnishing causes the paper to be a darker color and they like the lighter color because you can actually read the newspapers.
Under the porch exterior of the house walls.
Take your time to digest the exterior wall details. Mr. Elis F. Stenman’s grandniece, Edna Beaudoin, who runs the Paper House now as her Mom did before her, states that he mixed up his own glue with basic flour and water and would add sticky substances like apple peels.
Inside the Paper House is a real piano that Mr. Stenman simply covered with paper rolls.
The Paper House website calls this The Large Room.
The Sun porch. All the furniture is basically paper, usable, and heavy.
The sign on the desk says “This desk gives accounts of Col. Charles Lindbergh’s Flight” This must refer to being able to actually read the newspapers.
Close up photo of the newspaper curtains made by one of the relatives, Mrs. Stenman.
The fireplace mantle close up shows the little pieces of paper log rolls cut into different sizes. Mr. Stenman was the original Mr. DIY!
This grandfather clock has newspapers from each 48 states in it with the state capitols you can read all the way down the front of the clock. At the time of making the clock in the 30s, there was no Alaska or Hawaii yet.
Edna Beaudoin said her grand-uncle “wanted to see what would happen to the paper.” You just never know what is going to happen once you start tinkering around with something. Next thing you know, you’ve made a house out of paper and all the furniture inside of it too!