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Common Ground Students Set to Complete Remake of Henry David Thoreau’s Single-story 'Walden' Cabin (McDaniel College)

The Carroll County Times

July 8, 2019


In Henry David Thoreau’s masterwork, “Walden,” he describes the simple, self-sustaining life he led when he stayed in a single-story cabin on Walden Pond in Massachusetts for two years.

He observed his surroundings closely, taking a microscope to the world around him — learning about everything from interactions between ants to what he could accomplish with his own two hands — before he left, and the building was broken down.

On Friday, that structure — or at least a pretty convincing replica thereof — will stand once again, this time in Westminster.

For four years at Common Ground on the Hill, a three-week series of classes focusing on art, music and culture that is held annually at McDaniel College, Ken Koons has taught a class called “Building Thoreau’s Cabin.”

His students have made progress on the wooden formation each year — amounting to seven weeks of labor, in total — and this week marks its completion.

Each year, they’ve worked on the 16-by-10-foot design, as Koons instructs the group on how to use hand saws, mallets, chisels and more to learn how to create the timber-framed building — held together not by nails, but interlocking mortise and tenon joints secured with a wooden peg.