The following article was printed in The Manufacturer and Builder in June, 1869.
It says it was originally printed in the Des Moines Register, Wisconsin. I was intrigued by the idea of Victorian era paper houses, but found nothing else about them so far. I did, however find a Rev.W.W.King in Des Moines in 1868. There's a problem though. This is what I found in a history of Des Moines, Iowa.
In 1868 the first Universalist Church was organized, with Rev. W. W. King pastor. Its first meetings were held in Moore's Opera House, until a church edifice was erected on the corner of West Sixth and Cherry streets. This building was removed to Ninth street in 1879, and is occupied by the Temperance Reform Club.
At that time, however, as far as I could tell in my research, there was no Des Moines Register. There was, however, a paper called the Iowa State Register in Des Moines. Iowa and Des Moines used to be part of Wisconsin Territory til the mid 1830's.
Is it all coincedence, or did someone at The Manufacturer and Builder print some facts incorrectly? In any event, It's still interesting to know that at least a few people were trying out paper as a building material.
THE Rev. W. W. King thus relates in the Des
Moines (Wis.) Register his experience in building
one of these paper houses. We have no doubt that
our readers will extract from Mr. Rings communica-
tion, hints which may be valuable under some
circumstances. His story runs as follows:
I want to give such information as I possess touch-
ing a matter of interest to some people, especially to
those who desire to build comfortable houses, and whose
pecuniary resources are limited. Anxious to secure a
house for my family, and avoid paying one dollar a
day rent, I began my preparations for building the
1st of last October, and the 1st of December moved
into very comfortable winter quarters. After consult-
ing with reliable parties and examining the material,
I concluded to use the Hock River Company’s build-
ing paper, and it is of this experiment and its result
that I desire more particularly to speak. I have used
the paper on the outside instead of weather-boards, or
siding, on the roof instead of shingles, and on my in-
side walls throughout instead of plastering, and with
results more than satisfactory. I have a home warm-
er than any plastered house I ever saw, and I have
saved more than one third of the expense of the old
method. The erection of my building was in all re-
spects an experiment, but I learned continually by
trial, and could now improve on that experiment in
many respects. I think I can give practical advice to
those who desire to use this material.
In the first place, as all the walls inside and outside
are covered with common surface-dressed sheeting,
the studding can be placed at least three feet apart,
and the frame be stiffer than that of an ordinary
building. Here there is a large saving of about one half of
the dimension-lumber required in a plastered build-
ing. I covered the outside walls and roof with -
sheeting. On the roof, I used the plain paper, commencing
at the eaves, and bending over the edge of the paper,
and fastening to the edge of the roof-board with
common headed ten-ounce tacks, driven about one inch
apart. The next course of paper was lapped over the
joint four inches, taking pains to join the lap before
laying with a heavy coat of mineral paint, then tack-
ing as before, near the lower edge of the second course
and through both. Care should be taken to tack the
ends carefully. When the roof is thus laid, it should
be covered with a heavy coat of mineral paint. Then
have common inch lumber cut into strips half an inch
thick, and these strips laid up and down the roof from
eight to ten inches apart, and fastened with shingle
nails ; then cover all with mineral paint, and you have
a roof that no wind or rain can penetrate, and which I
am confident, if kept properly painted, will last an
ordinary lifetime. On the outside walls, put the paper
on perpendicularly, laying the edges of the courses
together and tacking once in four inches, and following
with mineral paint. Then take common battens,
paint them on the back side, lay once over the joints,
where the courses of paper meet, and once in the
centre of each course; then paint as on the roof. Care
should be taken outside and inside to lay the paper
close to the window-frames and door-frames before the
casings are set, so that the casings may cover all joints.
On the inside, I use common sheeting laid close from
the floor to the top of the back of a common chair; and
from that point to the top and overhead I use strips of
lumber from two to four inches wide and two feet
apart taking pains to have the edges of the paper
meet the centre of a strip. The paper should be laid
lengthwise on the strips, and the edges tacked each
inch, with occasional tacks here and there through the
centre of the paper. Then, when all is done, use for
walls and ceiling any wall-paper to suit the taste.
The walls and ceiling of the kitchen and pantry should
be painted with mineral paint for a ground-work, and
then any color to suit. Strips of paper or thin muslin
pasted over the joints in the paper before painting, to
hide the heads of tacks, will improve the appearance.
For floors, use common surface-dressed lumber, and
then cover with paper before carpeting. These plain
directions will insure comfort and economy. The
paper can be laid at a cost of from ten to twelve cents
per yard. This includes every thing, labor and mate-
rial. Let us look at the net results of advantages:
First. You can build at any season of the year,
finish your rooms to-day and move into them to-mor-
Second. You save a large expense in hauling lime
Third. You save largely in the amount and qual-
ity of labor required, as there is far less work, and it
can mostly be done by common laborers.
Fourth. You save one half of your dimension-lum-
ber; and after the frame is up and the partitions set,
it is less expense to prepare the walls for the paper
than for plastering.
Fifth. You have a warmer house than can be built
with lumber and mortar.
In conclusion, I believe the Paper House is a
success, and will prove a great blessing and improve-
ment in this climate, and especially to the thousands
who must study economy.