My grandfather Paul and his next-door neighbor Pearly built this hunter’s cabin deep in the Maine woods in 1965, and there are few things in our family that are more treasured. Over the years the cabin has provided for all manner of escape — weekend getaways, visits to the lake, skiing and hunting trips, writer’s retreats. And though I have stayed there many times since I was a kid, I never fully appreciated the simple beauty of grandpa’s plan until this summer, when my wife and I enjoyed three blissfully quiet and unencumbered nights there. It suddenly occurred to me that this rustic little shack made of pine is a quintessential example of modern architecture.
All the boxes are checked: post and beam construction; structural honesty; an open plan; copious natural light; space-saving built-ins; and a near monastic rapport with nature. Of course it lacks, shall we say, some of the modern amenties we’ve come to expect. There is no electricity, no indoor plumbing (an outhouse “privy” services nature calls), no telephone, television, or Internet, and forget about wireless connectivity. Which is the whole point, right?
Thoreau said simplify, simplify, simplify. Modernism, at its essence, is also about stripping away the unnecessary. I don’t think my grandfather was a modernist, or thought much about architectural style — and maybe that’s the key. He built only what was essential and functional, and in doing so created a classic Mid-Maine mod cabin in the woods. Hmmm, I can smell the pine. Makes me wanna go back theyah again real soon.