Look inside Henry Builds a Cabin


More than 150 years ago, in the woods beside Walden Pond, Henry David Thoreau built a cabin. It was 10 feet wide and 15 feet long, just big enough for his bed, a writing desk, a table, and three chairs.

Henry wanted his cabin to be small so it wouldn’t cost much money. He bought used windows and old boards and bricks that cost less than new ones. And he built the cabin himself (with the help of his friends) instead of paying someone to build it for him. Altogether, the cabin cost only $28.12½.

Henry builds his cabin
Boards (mostly shanty boards) $8.03½, Refuse Shingles (for roof and sides) $4.00, Laths $1.25, Two Windows with glass (second-hand) $2.43, One thousand old brick $4.00, Two casks of lime $2.40 (That was high.), Hair $0.31 (More than I needed.), Mantle-tree iron $0.15, Nails $3.90, Hinges and screws $0.14, Latch $0.10, Chalk $.01, Transportation (I carried a good part on my back.) $1.40.

Henry moved into his cabin on July 4, 1845. Before the snow came he built a fireplace and chimney and plastered the walls to keep out the cold air. He lived at the pond for two years. The people of Concord wondered: Why would Henry move to the woods away from town?

Henry draws plans for a cabin

Henry wanted a quiet place to write a book about what he loved, the wild outdoors. He kept a journal to tell about what he saw in the woods and the pond: how plants and animals changed with the seasons, when flowers bloomed and berries ripened. And his life in the woods showed people how to live happily without spending all their time earning money. The book Henry wrote about this time is called Walden.
In it he writes:

“Most men appear never to have considered what a house is, and are actually though needlessly poor all their lives because they think they must have such a one as their neighbors have.”