Nick Rosen |

Ureneck: On Walden Pond
Lou Ureneck has decided he is the next Thoreau, author of Walden, Life in the Woods.

Henry Thoreau’s nineteenth century cabin was 10 feet by 15 feet. Lou Ureneck’s in Western Maine will be 30 by 16. And The New York Times has given it the star treatment.

Ureneck is professor of journalism at Boston University, and  he is building the cabin “himself”, together with help from friends and family, not to mention a few local contractors.

The cabin is to be a vacation getaway and “will be simple, even primitive, maintaining contact with a tradition of frugality that reaches back to Walden Pond,” says Ureneck.  He bought the land this February for $32,000 to have somewhere to go fishing.

It will be “a far cry from the big, fancy cabins that have become popular in recent years, with French doors, commercial-grade kitchens and wide decks for entertaining at the lake. With the extravagant vacation-home market in collapse, I’m happy to offer my simple and inexpensive cabin as a manifesto for the times.”

Solar panels in the roof will him a trickle of electricity to power a laptop; lights and stove will run off bottled gas; a generator will power a pump to lift water from the well.

Ureneck was the deputy managing editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, in charge of the Inquirer’s front page and nightly news operation.  Reassuringly, that does not seem to have given him the magic touch with his contractors:

“I dithered through the summer with a contractor who kept delaying the excavation of my driveway, then I found another, who came in promptly with a bulldozer and about a hundred yards of gravel,” he told The Times.

Before joining the Inquirer, Ureneck was editor and vice president of The Portland (Maine) Press Herald, which introduced him to the area where he bought his cabin.  He developed the Herald into one of the best medium-size newspapers in the country. He was also editor-in residence at the Neiman Foundation at Harvard University.

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