Rooming Houses: An Integral Chapter in History

The concept of renting a room has a rich history, with famous individuals like Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, and others finding themselves in rooming houses.

February 21, 2024

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In an era marked by innovation and changing housing dynamics, coliving has emerged as a transformative trend, offering a unique solution to affordable and flexible living arrangements. Among the pioneers of this movement is PadSplit, now recognized as the nation’s largest coliving marketplace.

As we explore the impact of PadSplit on contemporary living, it’s intriguing to note that the concept of renting a room has a rich history, with famous individuals like Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, and others finding themselves in rooming houses for various reasons.

Famous figures who lived in rooming houses

The idea of coliving and renting rooms is not a new phenomenon. Throughout history, many influential figures sought refuge in rooming houses. Shared housing has contributed to the rich tapestry of their experiences and shaped their destinies.

  1. Abraham Lincoln: Abraham Lincoln, faced the challenges of finding affordable accommodation during his congressional term. His stay in a rooming house in Washington reflects the historical significance of such dwellings. The rooming house is now the site of the Library of Congress Jefferson Building.
  2. Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens): Mark Twain, known for his timeless tales, spent considerable time in rooming houses during his formative years. These experiences undoubtedly influenced his writings, adding a layer of authenticity and relatability to his literary masterpieces.
  3. Vincent van Gogh: The tormented genius Vincent van Gogh often found himself in various rooming houses. Whether in Arles, France, or London, England, these accommodations witnessed the struggles and triumphs of one of history’s greatest artists.
  4. Malcolm X: Long before becoming a prominent civil rights leader, Malcolm X lived in rooming houses during his early life. These humble abodes played a pivotal role in shaping his perspectives on racial and social issues, contributing to his activism.
  5. Eleanor Roosevelt: Even the esteemed Eleanor Roosevelt experienced rooming house living before her marriage to Franklin D. Roosevelt. Her time in a New York City rooming house reflects the diverse paths that led individuals to such accommodations.
  6. Babe Ruth (George Herman Ruth): Babe Ruth faced the challenges of early professional life by living in rooming houses. These spaces provided practical and affordable solutions for the budding athlete as he navigated the hurdles of a burgeoning career.
  7. Jack London: Jack London, famed for works like “The Call of the Wild,” found expression in the rooming houses he inhabited. These spaces may have been the crucible for the raw, untamed energy that permeates his literary creations.

PadSplit’s rise as the nation’s largest coliving marketplace is a testament to the evolving landscape of housing solutions. Due to the affordable housing crisis, coliving is now on the rise in the U.S. As we embrace the convenience and affordability that coliving offers, it’s worth reflecting on the historical roots of renting a room. Coliving is a practice that has shaped the experiences of both ordinary individuals and iconic figures alike.

The stories of famous figures like Abraham Lincoln and Jack London remind us that the concept of shared living spaces has long been an integral part of the human journey. Coliving provides not just shelter but a canvas for life’s diverse and compelling narratives.

If you want to enjoy the benefits of shared housing and save 40-50% on rent, browse our rooms for rent. If you want to double your ROI on a single-family home, learn more at

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