The Joshua Tree Trash House: From Garbage to Treasure

The Joshua Tree Trash House: From Garbage to Treasure

Mr. Polumbo, who is a sculptor with a day job as a high-end contractor in New York City, is part of the latest wave of artists for whom Joshua Tree’s cinematic bleakness and fringe Americana are aesthetic attractions. “I like stuff that has a patina, and that you can drive a hand-truck into,” said Randy Polumbo, who owns the Trash House, which also has a bathroom ceiling made from ammunition cases and a loft railing made of rusty mattress frames. Split by the Twentynine Palms Highway, the town’s landscape, with large boulders set off by the unusual shapes of the Joshua Tree, features an unusual local tradition of vernacular architecture of mid-century stone-and-wood shacks. These little shacks later were expanded in the 1970s by hippies and survivalists, who created add-ons, such as rooms made from half a geodesic dome or a Quonset hut.

Mr. Polumbo bought this property in 2007, 2 1/2 acres and a tiny rock cabin, for $120,000. The shack initially had been hand-built as a weekend place by “a crazy-in-love couple” named Bob and Lu Ferry, Mr. Polumbo said. Pennies embedded in the mortar recorded their progress from 1938 to 1942. The house is an early example of a “jackrabbit homestead,” the name for a hand-built or prefabricated cabins that were built on five-acre plots sold by the government for a nominal fee between 1938 and the 1960s, as a result of the Small Tract Act of 1938. In addition to the Trash House, Polumbo’s property includes “The Garden and Grotto of Manifest Destiny,” an artistic installation piece he created that features glowing festoons of Easter-egg-colored rubber sex toys set inside a 1980s-era military vehicle. If you don’t get too close, its “blossoms” look like a fantastic Martian garden. The “Grotto” has been a hard-working art piece: it traveled to the Burning Man festival in August and to Art Basel Miami Beach in December. Now it’s powering Mr. Polumbo’s house through an extension cord.

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The Joshua Tree Trash House: From Garbage to Treasure

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One Response to “The Joshua Tree Trash House: From Garbage to Treasure”

  1. Solar Power Says:

    I absolutely love it! a little different from my Victorian house in Leeds, England


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