“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately. To front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Thoreau
Two years, two months and two days. That is the amount of time that Henry David Thoreau spent in a tiny, 10′ x 15′ self-built cabin in the woods owned by the Emerson family on the out-skirts of Concord, Massachusetts, next to a pond named Walden. It was there that Thoreau began an experiment in “simple living” when he furnished this tiny cabin with two chairs, a bed, a simple table and a copy of the Bhagavad Gita; the Hindu story of Lord Krishna. Thoreau’s self-imposed seclusion was intended to offer him the solace necessary to write his first book, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. Instead he wrote the classic tale, Walden, which examines one’s life as an individual, within society and in relation to nature. To this day, Thoreau is recognized as one of the great American transcendental writers and the father of the modern day environmentalist movement.
Thoreau’s cabin can be considered a mini-cabin; a structure that measures less than 120 feet. Because of the diminutive size, mini-cabins do not require building permits and are not regulated by building codes. There are several mini-cabins, also referred to as Tiny Houses, sprinkled throughout the U.S. Others of note include Thomas Jefferson’s Honeymoon Cabin and George Bernard Shaw’s Writing Hut.
Breakdown of what Thoreau’s mini-cabin cost:
- Board’s: $8.03 ½, mostly shanty boards
- Refuse shingles for roof and sides: $4.00
- One thousand old brick: $4.00
- Two casts of lime: $2.40.
- Hair: $0.31. (Probably Horse hair which was used to strengthen plaster)
- Laths: $1.25
- Two second-hand windows with glass: $2.43
- Mantle-tree iron: $0.15
- Nails: $3.90
- Hinges and screws: $0.14
- Latch: $0.10
- Chalk: $0.01
- Transportation: $1.40.
- In all: $28.12
Interested in learning more about mini-cabins? Check out A Little House of My Ownby Lester Walker.