The Pioneers Originated the Tiny House Movement
A Trip to Salt Lake City, Utah
I recently returned from a trip to Salt Lake City, Utah. My husband had a conference there, so I had a few days to explore on my own. One of the places I visited was called, "This Is The Place" Heritage Center. The major part of the attraction was a living history town with buildings and employees dressed in period costume. As I wandered around the grounds with my camera, I found one area with a row of cabins that originally belonged to settlers in different parts of Utah, which had been moved from their original spots to this Heritage Center. I was amazed as I walked into them. They were mostly one-room small cabins lived in by either one single person, a couple, or a whole family. I was amazed at how people could live together under one small roof in such cramped quarters. And then I remembered the current tiny house movement and realized the early settlers were the originators of the tiny house movement. The difference between these early pioneers and the people choosing to live in tiny homes today is that the pioneers did it out of necessity and people today choose a tiny home for many other reasons.
A Nineteenth Century Cabin
Below is a log cabin built in 1868 by a couple. The bottom three pictures show the inside of the cabin which is one room, with a loft above. I was standing in the doorway to take this shot, so on my left was the food preparation area with a table to eat at. There is a stove in that area on the back left which is a bit hard to see. This would have provided heat for the cabin. On the right was a bed, a cradle although the information did not specify if this couple had any children.
The John Gardiner House
This next house was lived in by a couple with ten children. John Gardiner built the house with his first wife in 1864. The house measures thirteen feet wide by twenty-two feet long. In 1883, he married again and had ten children with his second wife, and all twelve of them lived in this cabin. I can't even imagine that. The three girls slept on the floor in front of the fireplace while the seven boys slept in a loft above the living area, which was reached by a ladder on the outside of the house. Imagine having to go outside and climb a ladder in the middle of a snowstorm or rainstorm. A lean-to of sticks and mud was also added onto the house to accommodate some of the children. The parents in this family slept in a bed in the same room as the daughters. I learned all this from a young girl who was a guide and was excited to share the history of this house. She was dressed in period costume, and it was obvious that she loved her job.
One of my favorite parts of my visit to this house was the picture on the mantle of John Gardiner and his second wife, Annie Nichols, the parents of the ten children. I was amazed that a photograph existed of them and was available to be displayed in their home long after they have died.
Tiny Houses of Today
Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the tiny houses of today. But I enjoy watching shows like, "Tiny House Hunting" and "Tiny House Nation" which show people looking for a tiny house to move into, and the second show showcases people who are building their tiny house. These homes in the shows are anywhere between 250 and 600 square feet.
In the period of the settlers in the West, a tiny house was a necessity to stay out of the elements and stay safe from wild animals. But today, people are making a conscious effort to downsize their possessions and simplify their living arrangements for some reasons which include:
1) Saving money and using that money to travel
2) Have less stress from financial burdens and home upkeep.
3) Live a simpler life to have more leisure time to spend on activities they enjoy
4) Have a home that is mobile so they can pick up and move to a different location whenever they want.
Personally, I would love to live in a tiny house to save money, cut down on the time and money for the upkeep of my home, and be able to move it wherever I wanted. But since my husband is not a fan of the tiny house movement, I am content in the beautiful home we now live in, which happens to be in the Appalachian Mountains, and has wonderful views.
I enjoyed visiting "This Is The Place" Heritage Center in Salt Lake City, Utah and loved seeing the actual homes where the pioneers lived. Their simple lifestyle was a reminder to me of the joys of living more with less and enjoying life a bit more because of it.
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© 2015 Karen Hellier