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The Round House

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!

By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum

Millinocket homes have had many shapes, sizes and designs through the years! From the shacks on the early mill site to boarding houses and the small 2-story houses near the mill gate where each had a small stained-glass window on the stairway landing. Larger and fancier houses appeared on Maine Avenue and Highland Avenue. Through the years, many other designs for homes were used, both large and small. There were Sears-Roebuck homes that arrived in crates at the B & A RR station and had to be pieced together by the purchaser. Many interesting stories!

Following are portions of a 1941 newspaper article contained in an old scrapbook! Resident John Slipp Porter had the idea of building a “perfectly round house.” A railroad engineer for 23 years, Porter had toyed with the idea for more than 20 years. The house was built with seven rooms (4 rooms and bath upstairs, 3 compact rooms downstairs).

Porter’s words quoted in the article: “I had trouble constructing the stairs. Then my wife got out a pencil and showed me how.” The person was facing west at the bottom and east at the top. Porter said, “It gives a touch of variety to the whole thing.”

“I had a couple of heating engineers in. They said it would be a cinch to heat. There’s no wasted space. My wife won’t have any corners to clean. Everybody says it’s dandy.”

There have undoubtedly been changes to this unique home during the years. There were 19 large windows and 3 smaller ones. The “front room” as folks used to call the living room and 2 of the upper bed chambers “face directly north where majestic Mount Katahdin gleams, 25 miles away, like an orchid molar in the sun.”

The article stated that Porter expected to have the home completed during the summer (1941) and it would be painted a “soft cream color.” Porter, his wife and three sons would live in the “round house.” The article concludes by stating that Porter’s idea of houses “may be circular in design, his thoughts of livelihood run down a straight road.

Porter is quoted, “I’m just a cog in the railroading game and I leave my ideas to home. If I brought them with me, I’d probably be conducting excursions around Mt. Katahdin.”

Do you have stories of Millinocket homes and other buildings? Share them with us at the museum. There is the so-called Tin House, the homes and businesses constructed of homemade square blocks, the grand Victorian homes, the 1950’s “new development” homes and many more. Frank Rush’s built several small homes for his workers near his saw-mill and also had three red cabooses as housing for employees. Some interesting tidbits are mentioned in Dorothy Laverty’s second book, So You Live in Millinocket, available at the museum.

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