Elis F. Stenman created a machine to manufacture paper clips. He was an amateur inventor, and in 1922 he wondered if an entire house could be built using only newspaper for insulation. Owning a plot of land in the seaside resort of Rockport, Massachusetts, Stenman had his new cottage framed with wood. The floor and roof are also wood. But he used rolled-up newspapers to insulate the walls, and then forgot to cover them with shingles.


When the house was finished in 1924, Stenman and his wife, shown here, lived there each summer until 1930. It had electricity and running water, but no bathroom. (There was an outhouse in back, and it was not made of paper.) After the couple settled in, Stenman wondered how much furniture he could build by nailing together varnished rolls of newspaper. Today all the furniture is made of paper. In the photo above, Mrs. Stenman is sitting at a desk made entirely of rolled up, varnished copies of The Christian Science Monitor. Here's a close up.

Ninety-three cold winters and hot summers have not damaged Stenman's paper house, which is still open for tours. "There's lots of varnish on the walls," says Stenman's great niece, Edna Beaudoin, "but we don't varnish the inside of the house because the more you put on, the darker it gets, and we like to leave it so you can still read the papers."