Walden Once More: Building

The most interesting dwellings in this country, as the painter knows, are the most unpretending, humble log huts and cottages of the poor commonly; it is the life of the inhabitants whose shells they are, and not any peculiarity in their surfaces merely, which makes them picturesque; and equally interesting will be the citizen’s suburban box, when his life shall be as simple and as agreeable to the imagination, and there is as little straining after effect in the style of his dwelling.

–Henry David Thoreau

We will strive for simplicity in the structure of our home so that the lives we lead within them will be also simple and “agreeable to the imagination.” Our luxuries will be those that promote health, well-being, and efficient living: Princess Cordelia beds, quality plumbing, the best appliances and stoves. For a well-rested, well-nourished child has energy for learning, growing, playing, and creating.

Many of these children will have come from sparse environments where filling their basic needs took all their time and energy.

Here, we aim at a simple and natural abundance to open up time and space for exploration, growth, and discovery.

Construction begins with the basement.

Emerson Institute

The Institute will be constructed on a simple L plan, opening onto the large courtyard, where much of our daily lives will unfold.

The basement will house our play rooms. To bring in some light and softness to this dark subterranean space, I’ve lined the floors with carpets and the walls with art.

Emerson Institute

Emerson Institute

Above this, we’ve placed our large open kitchen-dining area, the heart of our home.

Emerson Institute

In the other wing, on the ground floor, our music room extends.

Emerson Institute

On the second floor, we have the bedrooms, two single rooms, and two to share, for those who prefer not to sleep alone.

Emerson Institute

Emerson Institute

Every room has a book shelf, so that our reading material is always at hand.

A tower room provides a spot to paint or to sit quietly and read.

Our roof-top observatory encourages investigation of the night mysteries.

Emerson Institute

And… with all this luxury, we still come short of the Foundation’s budget, which we are contractually bound to fulfill in its entirety.

This is absurd. We are forced to “strain after effect,” and, though I had 350k Simoleans in savings prior to construction, I have now only 67k in savings, and we are still 100k short of the needed value for the property.

Sometimes, as we step out of the forest into the meadow where our dreams conclude, we are met with one more stile to cross.

Henrietta Davida Thoreau

I can write. I can paint. If needed, we can stock our basement with knights’ armor until we reach the required amount, then, once we pass the Foundation’s final inspection, I can sell all that is superfluous and use the proceeds for scholarship funds. Or even art supplies and food. Novel concept.

I understand the bitterness and anger that crept now and then into my great, great granduncle’s words.

Still. It is not a defeat. My writing will continue to bring in the needed amount. And one day. One day, the effect we will notice here at the Institute will be the effect of the young lives “simple and agreeable to the imagination” which will be lived within.

We are almost there. Soon this lot will resound with the laughter of children.

Henrietta Davida Thoreau

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