TEXT BY JESSE ELLISON
PHOTOGRAPHS BY MYRIAM BABIN
Pam Logan’s tiny home has been perched on its tiny hill off Route 1 in Wiscasset since before Route 1 was Route 1, Wiscasset was Wiscasset, and Maine was Maine. The 448-square-foot dwelling was built in 1790 — a year into George Washington’s presidency, when the nearby Sheepscot River was so crowded with square-rigged ships you could cross the harbor by walking across their decks.
Logan first saw the 1790 Tiny House, as she calls it, in 2012, while visiting a former classmate who lives in the area. By then, the doll-house-like abode with the center gable on Fort Hill Street had seen 30 years of renters and far better days, but she instantly fell for its modest footprint. “It was the cutest little place that was just hidden by plants and vinyl siding,” she says. “I loved, loved, loved the size.”
ABOVE Logan can see the sun set and the landmark Castle Tucker from the back deck. She removed a wall between the kitchen and a former washroom to create a little dining area with a table crafted from wood reclaimed from the home. Ruby-red paint on the ceiling links the rooms.
The property had been in the same family since it was built and at one point housed a clan of 10, who apparently slept wherever they could find free space, including in closets. On the day it went on the market in 2016, Logan made an offer, promising the owners she would never rent or flip it. “I said, ‘I’m gonna bring it back.’ And they love what I’ve done.”
She threw herself into a restoration that at times felt more like an excavation. After spiffing up the exterior with a new sill and black-and-white palette on the largely original trim and clapboards, she moved indoors, pulling up layers of plywood, carpeting, and linoleum to reveal wide-pumpkin-pine floors that she repainted in some areas and left natural in spots like the living room and kitchen, where the planks are flecked with charcoal-black reminders of where a wood-burning cookstove once sat.
ABOVE Logan found a black-and-white toile wallpaper behind the baseboards in the entry and sought to recreate it with a print from online source Steve’s Blinds & Wallpaper; the diamond-patterned floor has tiny cats in the corners in honor of Logan’s, and former resident Edna Jones’s, favorite pet. The living room furnishings, like those in the rest of the home, are a mix of antiques store, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace finds. Yellow paint discovered beneath old carpeting inspired the reading nook’s floor.
Faux-wood paneling and reams of wallpaper came down and were replaced with period patterns, and, in the kitchen, tongue-and-groove pine paneling. On the ceilings, rich jewel-toned paint and embossed wallpaper painted to mimic tin impart character and the illusion of more height. Throughout the renovation, Logan encountered voices from the past. A note behind a kitchen wall read, “Bill and Bob Seigars remodeled this house, winter 1978–79. Wages $6 an hour.” And in the upstairs bedroom, she found the words “PAPERED BY EDNA JONES” — great-aunt of the previous owners and possibly one of the closet sleepers in the old 10-member family — scrawled beneath layers of paper on a wall.
Following tradition, Logan added some messages of her own. A three-page history of her experience buying and restoring the house is tucked behind a kitchen wall and her plans for the entryway’s black-and-white-painted floor edged in a checkerboard pattern are hidden in one of that room’s walls. On the subfloor, she wrote the names of all the home’s owners — including hers and her daughter’s, whom she plans to leave the property to — and a warning: “DO NOT screw up this tiny house by adding on or making it contemporary. I will haunt you.”