A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN…
“Is there anybody who hasn’t at one time or another wished for such a place, hasn’t turned those soft words over until they’d assumed a habitable shape? …a place of solitude a few steps off the beaten track of everyday life.” - Michael Pollan, A Place of My Own.
“With this more substantial shelter about me, I had made some progress toward settling in the world.”- Henry David Thoreau, Walden.
“Nowadays, one who wishes to experience the poetry of life might be advised to have a hut of her- or his- own. …here in a hut of one’s own, a person may find one’s very own self, the source of humanity’s song.” - Ann Cline, A Hut of One’s Own.
POTENTIAL DESTINATIONS FOR THE CABOOSE…
Writing Shed. Many notable authors found in humble writing shed a place to dream, create, and write. Mark Twain, Virginia Wolfe, David McCullough, Dylan Thomas, George Bernard Shaw, among others.
Art studio. Plenty of natural light. An intimate space for creating. Wall space for display.
Getaway. From life’s noise and insistence. The perfect retreat, a place to recharge.
Cottage for Installing an Ornamental Hermit. “…a bizarre aspect of certain 18th century gentlemen… installed ‘ornamental hermits’ on their estates…they periodically received food and water from the main house…signed contracts not to cut hair, beard, or fingernails, and either to remain unseen or to be on display, to the gentleman and his friends.” (Ann Cline)
Prayer Closet. Devotional, reverential, quiet.
Stage for The Next Big Thing
Authors and their writing sheds, past and present...
- 4x4 PT lumber base, 4x4 cedar post and beam frame, 2x6 pine tongue & groove walls
- EPDM rubber roof over multiple plywood sheathing supported by curved ply trusses
- Roof secured with hurricane straps. ¾” PT plywood subfloor, two 30” wood 15-lite doors
- Four fixed-glass windows, Cupola with 8 Lexan panes. No plumbing or electric
- Customer’s choice as to final inside finished flooring and platform decking
- Mounted on a hay wagon “running gear” (frame) with new 15+ street tires
- Overall: 8’ wide x 16’ in length…Room inside: 7’ wide x 11’ in length
- Cupola: 3’ x 5’ and 1.5’ height…7.5‘ ceiling height extended to 9’ to top of cupola
- Two platforms at either end, each 7’ wide x 2.5’ deep
- Includes local delivery from downtown Columbia, SC (10 miles)
- Includes a $500 allowance for finished flooring
- Does not include any permanent foundation work and securing to such foundation
- Does not include placement on the foundation, if terrain prohibits
The humble caboose was a fixture on the end of freight trains for more than a century. Their purpose was to provide a sheltered vantage point from which trainmen could watch the cars ahead, cook and eat their meals, and where the conductor could do paperwork.
The name may have originated with a French or Dutch word describing a deck cabin on a sailing ship, but railroaders, always inventive, called it by dozens of slang names: cabin car, crummy, shack, way car, bobber, brainbox, shanty, hack and many others.
At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, 4-
wheel "bobbers" were prevalent in the East.
The beginning of the end for bobbers came in 1913 when the State of Ohio passed a law requiring that all cabooses traveling through the State to have four axles and be at least 24 feet long, including platforms, by 1919. Other states followed suit.
The railroads responded by creating new designs. Some smaller rail lines continued to use 4-wheelers for many years in areas where they were legal, and many mainline 4-wheelers were bought second-hand. By the 1950's, the 4-wheel cars were getting fairly rare.
Several bobbers are on display in museums.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
Tired of the distractions of modern living, Henry David Thoreau went to the woods to live a deliberate and simple life. He borrowed some land near a pond called Walden from friend Ralph Waldo Emerson and built himself a simple 10′x15′ shack for $28.12 and furnished it with a bed, a table, a desk, and three chairs.
Mark Twain (1835-1910)
"It is the loveliest study you ever saw...octagonal with a peaked roof, each face filled with a spacious window...perched in complete isolation on the top of an elevation that commands leagues of valley and city and retreating ranges of distant blue hills. It is a cozy nest and just room in it for a sofa, table, and three or four chairs, and when the storms sweep down the remote valley and the lighting flashes behind the hills beyond and the rain beats upon the roof over my head—imagine the luxury of it." - Mark Twain, in a letter to William Dean Howells, 1874
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
George Bernard Shaw worked for the last 20 years of his life in a remarkably sophisticated writer's hut on his property in St. Albans, Hertfordshire. Besides having electricity, a telephone, and a buzzer system, the hut's most notable feature was that it was built on a turntable, which enabled Shaw to push it to follow the sun. This eliminated the need for an artificial light source and created indoor passive solar heating. (Minor correction, George Bernard Shaw's property (Shaw's Corner) is not in St Albans. It is nearer Welwyn Garden City. It is a National Trust property and worth a short visit (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/shaws-corner/).
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)
"She was always being distracted - by Leonard sorting the apples over her head in the loft, or the church bells at the bottom of the garden, or the noise of the children in the school next door, or the dog sitting next to her and scratching itself and leaving paw marks on her manuscript pages. In winter it was often so bitterly cold and damp that she couldn't hold her pen and had to retreat indoors." (from The Guardian)
Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)
"Dylan Thomas's writing shed began its life back in the 1920s. A Dr Cowan, who spent his holidays at the boathouse, bought the shed to house his Wolsey car. He paid £75 to erect the £5 shed on cast iron pillars on the cliffside at a time when the average house price was just £200... In his, as Thomas told Princess Caetani in 1952, 'wordsplashed hut', the walls were pinned with photos, reproductions and magazine cuttings of Lord Byron, Walt Whitman, Louis MacNeice, W. H. Auden, William Blake, a painting by Modigliani, picaresque nudes, serial specials from Picture Post and similar magazines, rhyming lists and word lists of alliterations." (from The Dylan Thomas Boathouse at Laugharne)
Roald Dahl (1916-1990)
"The whole of the inside was organised as a place for writing: so the old wing-back chair had part of the back burrowed out to make it more comfortable; he had a sleeping bag that he put his legs in when it was cold and a footstool to rest them on; he had a very characteristic Roald arrangement for a writing table with a bar across the arms of the chair and a cardboard tube that altered the angle of the board on which he wrote. As he didn't want to move from his chair everything was within reach. He wrote on yellow legal paper with his favourite kind of pencils; he started off with a handful of them ready sharpened..." (from The Guardian )
David McCullough (1933- )
“Nothing good was ever written in a large room,” David McCullough says, and so his own office has been reduced to a windowed shed in the backyard of his Martha’s Vineyard home. Known as “the bookshop,” the shed does not have a telephone or running water. Its primary contents are a Royal typewriter, a green banker’s lamp, and a desk, which McCullough keeps control over by “flushing out” the loose papers after each chapter is finished. The view from inside the bookshop is of a sagging barn surrounded by pasture. To keep from being startled, McCullough asks his family members to whistle as they approach the shed where he is writing. (from an interview with David McCullough in The Paris Review)
Michael Pollan (1955- )
Michael Pollan's book A Place Of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams is the story of how he built a tiny writing hut for himself in the woods behind his Connecticut house. As he writes on the first page, "Is there anybody who hasn't at one time or another wished for such a place, hasn't turned those soft words over until they'd assumed a habitable shape? What they propose, to anyone who admits them into the space of a daydream, is a place of solitude a few steps off the beaten track of everyday life."
A reproduction of Thoreau's Walden Pond cabin, at Furman University, Greenville, SC.