Bill Coperthwaite was a master yurt-builder/designer who was featured in Home Work. He died in 2013. The yurt that the Wehrwein family is building was based on Bill’s last design.
For almost three years, Melanie and Josh Wehrwein have been living in a heavy, round tent measuring 24 feet in diameter, along with their 8-year-old son Caden and 5-year-old daughter Aria.
Not far away on their wooded property is a circular, three-storied wooden structure that’s not complete, but into which they’ll eventually settle. Its base is 46 feet and 6 inches across. Its shape suggests a UFO.
Yurts, as both structures are known, were traditionally inhabited by those on the steppes of central Asian countries such as Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan.
In the United States, they’ve grown in popularity — and evolved in style — thanks in part to the efforts of a now-deceased Mainer named William Coperthwaite. Before a car accident took his life in 2013, Coperthwaite made many of the designs for the Wehrwein’s three-storied, wood-tapered yurt. It was the last design by Coperthwaite, who was 83 and lived in a similarly sizable yurt he’d built in Machiasport, [Maine].