Photo Archivist's Selection of the Month: May 2004
A Woodland Home Made of Packing Boxes.
Again, The Guide to Nature magazine, issue of December 1912, brings us a delightful article, this time about building and living in the wilds of what is now North Stamford.
Volume V, Number 8, December 1912
A Woodland Home Made of Packing Boxes.
BY EDWARD F. BIGELOW, Arcadia: Sound Beach, Conn.
JUDSON W. DELAP'S HOME NEAR TO NATURE AT STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT.
BUILT OF PACKING BOXES AS A RECREATION FOR A FEW MINUTES A DAY.
ATURE is primitive, and she is never artificial. If one is to meet her with advantage, and to become intimately acquainted with her, naturalness and simplicity are the traits that the visitor should possess. A life-long training has given to Mr. William Judson Delap of Stamford, Connecticut, preeminently these characteristics. To him anything incongruous, anything that does not fit well with the surroundings would be jarring and inharmonious. He likes to have all things in perfect accord. When he goes to nature, he goes in the best, most primitive and natural of methods. For many years he has been fond of seeking nature from a local home in the form of a tent or cabin. As he is a busy man, with a multiplicity of cares, extended trips to distant woods or to the Adirondacks consume too much time. Then, too, he is a lover of wild nature at all seasons of the year. He does not believe in limiting his communion with nature to a week or two in midsummer. Since he could not bring the Adirondack woods to Stamford, nor spare the time to make extended journeys at every season of the year, he solved the problem by building a permanent home that he calls "Denhurst" in the wildest spot of the woods that he could find within a few miles of Stamford. He purchased several acres of wild woodland on the well-known Den Road, which, for primitiveness, would take first premium in competition with any other part of the Stamford suburbs. He is a treelover. To him every tree on the premises is sacred. He was unwilling to part with a single one, yet he did not want to build the modern, conventional bungalow, nor a country cottage. He solved the problem by building a home in the woods so simple, so incomplex that it is even less complex than a log cabin. It was, therefore, not a matter of economy in lumber, but to carry out, an idea, that he constructed a house entirely of packing boxes from his extensive clothing and gentlemen's furnishing store.
HE TOOK A FEW AT A TIME: HE RAN UP INTO THE WOODS WITH HIS AUTOMOBILE. Note
He did not haul these in one great load after their accumulation in the backyard, but he took a few at a time; he ran up into the woods with his automobile, and tacked on a few of the boards and thus gave himself a sort of excuse for frequently visiting this wildness of nature for an hour or two when he could spare the time from the store. Almost unaided he put on board after board from the packing boxes, which made him feel that he owned not only this section of unchanged nature, but that the house itself is really his own, the result of his own personal handiwork. There is a charm in a thing that you make yourself.
Contrary to what might be expected, the buildings are not in appearance poverty stricken shanties, but are well and substantially built, in good proportion, and with harmonious and appropriate architectural lines.
Here Mr. Delap and the members of his family frequently resort for rest, recreation and the study of nature.
WITH HIS YOUNG DAUGHTER HE OFTEN SITS ON THE STONE WALL AND STUDIES THE BIRDS.
He is especially fond of the trees, he knows the plants, and with his young daughter he often sits on the stone wall and studies the birds. When I visited this delightful spot, where one may commune with nature, one of the first things that he said was, "I want to show you a remarkable boulder that reminds me of the figure-of-four traps of our boyhood. Nature has brought this stone, weighing many tons, from some distant place, and has propped it up by a small boulder under one side, as if I might pull it out by this hoe and let the huge boulder fall as do the well-known stone traps."
At no other home near to nature that I have visited, is there a better example than at this, of the meeting of the extremes of civilization, which here seem to come together and form a circle. Here is the wildest of primitive regions, but short daily visits to it would not be possible without the aid of that most modern of man's inventions--the automobile. The automobile has been working wonders and is still working wonders in thus making it possible to have frequent communion with nature. Not many years ago a nearness to nature was possible to the business man for only a short time during his short vacation, or perhaps a hunting trip in midwinter, or a mid-summer fishing excursion to some remote part of Maine. But the automobile annihilated the distance between the busy centers of trade and the tangled thickets. Can one imagine a more perfect form of recreation or more literally a place in which to recreate, or a more successful antidote for the rush and strain of modern civilization, and the intense competition of business than to slip away to this spot for a few hours of relief from responsibility, to enjoy this intimate acquaintance with the rocks, the trees, the birds, the sunshine and the invigorating air? That is the right kind of approach to nature. It inflicts no cruelty upon any form of life.
AS IF I MIGHT PULL IT OUT BY THIS HOE. But he couldn't nor could the combined strength of several men.
UNDER SOME CONDITIONS A MAN MAY TAKE HIS BUSINESS WITH HIM AND YET HAVE A VACATION!
Mr. Delap has been a successful hunter in years past, but I note that he is becoming more and more disposed to lay the gun aside, and to go to nature for rest, refreshment and observation. What he has done hundreds of others are doing and will continue to do. The more frequently such methods are repeated and practised, the longer will be the life arid the greater the happiness of our business men. Nature for the recluse only is a thing of past ages, but nature for the modern business man is not only a new method for preventing nervous exhaustion and collapse, but it is successful. It is proving to be salvation from the evils of nerve strain. It works. It is successful. Mr. Delap is himself a proof of it. He apparently has no nerves. Those who visit his store well know his never failing geniality and wit. He always has a smile and a word of good cheer. I know where he gets and how he retains his vitality. The purpose of this article is to reveal the secret that others may go and do likewise. Ever notice what a difference there is between one store and another? How tense and strained is the tone that one finds in some, where everything is keyed up to concert pitch like the strings of a violin, while in others there is a cordial pleasantness, a geniality as soothing as the melodious tones of an organ. Perhaps the kind of geniality found in Mr. Delap's store may be susceptible of a musical explanation. I think the secret may be found in the songs of the birds, the murmur of the winds through the trees over that packing-box house, and the rippling laughter of the water in the ravine at the foot of the hill. Soon after my arrival I went to the ravine at the suggestion of the host. "There," he said, "is a beautiful place and I know you will enjoy the brook." That brook laughs not only there but in Mr. Delap's store. It sings in the charming hospitality of his home, in the kind greeting of his wife, an attractive and affable hostess, and not least in eyes and on the lips of his young daughter, the joy of the household, a veritable nymph of the woods, the fairy of the packing-box home, of the beautiful trees, the mighty boulders, the singing birds and the humming insects of Den Road.
THE AUTOMOBILE ANNIHILATED THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THE BUSY CENTERS OF TRADE
AND THE TANGLED THICKETS. Note
THE PACKING BOX HOME WITH MODERN STONE WALL DECORATION.
AN AIR OF REST AND CONTENTMENT.
"FOR HE'S A JOLLY GOOD FELLOW" WHO LIKES TO HAVE HIS WIFE AND DAUGHTER WITH HIM TO TELL THEM HOW MUCH HE ENJOYS SOLITUDE (WITH THEM) IN THE WOODS!
Building Homes Near to Nature, advertisments from the same issue.
The Hartwell Delap Co. in the 1913 Stamford Directory
Front Cover, 1913 Stamford Register.
The ad for Hartwell Delap Company runs along the right side.
An inquiry on the Internet produced the following quote courtesy Kit Foster
of the Society of Automotive Historians
…the license plate tells
me that Mr. Delap's car is a 1912 Reo "The Fifth," serial number
39731. I have a 1915 Connecticut Motor Vehicle Register book, and
Mr. Delap, of 46 St. George Avenue, Stamford, was still driving it with
registration C12481. A glance at the Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805–1942 confirms that it's a Reo.
Reo stands for Ransom Eli Olds
Another cottage in North Stamford: The Nature Studies and Recreations of a Business Man
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