This post is part of a blog series revealing the table of contents of upcoming Issue Fourteen. As is our custom, we’ll be discussing one article per weekday in order to give you a taste of what is to come.
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What makes a house a home? If you were to design your own house, what kinds of principles would guide you? Is a house simply “a machine for living in,” or is it something more?
Author Joshua A. Klein has been pondering these questions for many years. He, his family, and a handful of friends have been working on the careful disassembly, moving, restoration, and rebuilding of an 1821 New England Cape since 2015. After a long pause as site details had to be dealt with, the project entered its next phase this past year as the house frame started coming together again on its new granite-block foundation. While maintaining all the beauty and thoughtful details of the original structure, this house will be more than simply relocated: Design elements, modern considerations (for example, plumbing), and new materials will be incorporated to create a home to last the next several hundred years.
Most homes constructed today have a limited shelf life – from their toe-nailed stick framing of dubious longevity to vinyl windows that will be dumpstered in a few decades. It is often easier to tear down a dated structure and rebuild, rather than modernizing it. But that was not always the perspective of the housewright or homesteader. Structures were intended to last beyond the first generation of inhabitants, to be a place of comfort and security for children’s children. Klein seeks to hold on to these values of the past as he rebuilds a homestead for the future. From details of scribed timber joinery, to modifications and repairs on the old frame to allow for new amenities while maintaining strength and beauty, to thoughtful questions about the value of building with permanence in mind, you will find a lot to think about here. There really is no place like home.
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