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Gimme Shelter

From House of Refuge to Homeless Family Centers, humans have always sought a safe place to lay their heads. The search goes on.

In 1876 the Government built a House of Refuge at the lower end of the Indian Rivers Narrows for the use of anyone shipwrecked. They could remain there until transportation arrived. Ships came and brought supplies every three or four months. In 1876 Captain John Houston became the first keeper of the Indian River House of Refuge, which was renamed the Bethel Creek House of Refuge in 1885. The house was destroyed by fire on Jan. 11, 1917.

In 1876 the Government built a House of Refuge at the lower end of the Indian Rivers Narrows for the use of anyone shipwrecked. They could remain there until transportation arrived. Ships came and brought supplies every three or four months. In 1876 Captain John Houston became the first keeper of the Indian River House of Refuge, which was renamed the Bethel Creek House of Refuge in 1885. The house was destroyed by fire on Jan. 11, 1917.

Madison, Wis., the home of cheese, badgers and the Green Bay Packers, is also home to a bookstore called A Room of One’s Own. The store was named after writer Virginia Woolf’s extended series of essays which argue not for a place to crash, but for a figurative space for women writers within a literary tradition dominated by men. Despite Woolf’s intention, A Room of One’s Own has acquired a more colloquial connotation, the need for personal space.

Rick Warren, author of A Purpose-Driven Life, writes that we all need a place to belong. Rolling Stone’s Mick Jagger agrees when he sings, “If I don’t get some shelter, oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away.” Even in the distant past when, anxious not to fade away, we sought shelter in caves, preferably those facing south, any old cavern wouldn’t do. We wanted our own stalagmites and stalactites, our own smoke-filled interior, furnished with a ledge where we might store a hempen string, a lava cobble, needles fashioned of ivory, a sling made of animal skin. Most importantly, we wanted a sleeping place of our own, a pallet made of handfuls of moss that smelled of us, a home base that we could always find, even in the dark.

Read the entire article in November 2012 issue