A bit from Bill Bryson's new bookAt Home:

[T]he history of early America is really a history of coping with shortages of building materials. ... During the first century of colonization, it was a rare house that lasted more than ten years...A hurricane in 1634 blew away – literally just lifted up and carried off – half the houses of Massachusetts.  Barely had people rebuilt when a second storm of similar intensity blew in...Even decent building stone was not available in many areas.  When George Washington wanted to pave his loggia at Mount Vernon with simple flagstones, he had to send to England for them.

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