If a recent study is to believed, Don Demarko is a Dakota-based eccentric whose main claim to fame is that he lives in a mansion built entirely of dictionaries. Other sources suggest that Demarko (age 75, unmarried) started collecting dictionaries in the early 60s after taking a course in linguistics at a local college. His collection grew rapidly, soon filling up all the space in his house. Visitors to the early Demarko residence speak of ‘dictionaries piled up in front of windows, blocking out light’, ‘dictionaries in the bath’ and ‘dictionaries doubling up as seats’.
From living amongst dictionaries, it seems it was only a short step to living in dictionaries. Demarko soon discovered that dictionaries functioned perfectly well as building material. Two or three dictionaries laid side by side could successfully withstand the elements, and a fine range of furniture could be manufactured from the same material. Demarko started building ‘Dictionary Mansion’ in 1978 (strictly speaking, it’s more of a bungalow) and finished about eight years later. Close friends have described the building as ‘habitable’ and ‘not a little damp’.
When asked why he had embarked upon this project Demarko replied, rather surprisingly, that ‘he was at a loss for words’.