"Our country is wedded to studs, sheetrock, plywood, and plasterboard—all you get is a box," declared architect Bob Chappelle during a 2015 tour of his handcrafted earthen home in rural Vermont. Chappelle—who was 95 at the time of the interview and has since passed away—designed and built much of the structure himself, spending multiple years of his retirement applying layers of polystyrene insulation boards, mud, and cement to complete each of the four domed sections.
As chronicled in a 1994 Popular Science article about the home's construction, Chappelle described building the first domed section over a period of four years, with plenty of experimenting and on-the-job learning. He estimated it would take him an additional three years to build the remaining wings, although it's unclear when he actually finished.
As the article noted, he first cut and glued together panels of Foamular insulation boards to form the arched and cone-shaped sections. "[He] then applie[d] handfuls of mud mixed with Portland cement to the inner and outer sides of the coned structure [...] and use[d] a shaper to carve the mud. Clear water repellent protects the exterior."
To that, Chappelle quipped: "How many shapes do you get out of plywood and studs? You end up with boxes—a kitchen box, a dining room box."
While the property will certainly require additional investment and some modernization, the sellers hope to find a buyer interested in carrying on Chappelle's vision. Located about three hours northwest of Boston and southeast of Montreal, the 47-acre property also offers a large pond, open fields, and pristine wooded areas. Keep scrolling to see more of the home, which is currently listed for $220,000.
5415 Hollister Hill Road in Marshfield, Vermont, is currently listed for $220,000 by Sue Aldrich of Coldwell Banker Classic Properties.
Architecture and Construction: Robert "Bob" Norman Chappelle, Sr.
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