The Millennium Rock House

An amazing house built entirely of stone in Horatio, Arkansas.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
October/November 1995
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Vern's window design. The agates are cut into ¼"" slices, then sandwiched between two panes of ¼"" glass.

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Fireproof, insurance-proof, windproof, water damage-proof, hail-proof, mouse-proof, paint-proof, and self-air-conditioning," Ray Swanke boasted as he showed us his and his brother Vern's pride and joy, a 13-million-pound rock home, hand-built near the town of Horatio, AR. That's nearly 7,000 tons of backbreaking labor. Their fortress is framed by 360 linear feet of concrete walls, poured between frames made of ¾-inch exterior plywood, and faced with marble the brothers collected during five years of construction. From the marble floor tiles hand laid over five months to the marble and granite chimney, the house will be a thousand-year testament to the patience and care of the two brothers. As if to prove that particular point, a tornado tore a path of destruction to their doorstep a few years ago, and passed directly over the house without displacing a stone.

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