Years ago I received a call from someone who told me that they had an old farmhouse that had been the victim of a fire and he asked me if I’d be interested in salvaging the home.
The caller said that part of the home was an old log cabin.
He had my interest.
I made my usual mistake of asking some follow up questions… how old was the cabin? what species of wood was it made out of?
No one ever seems to know these answers… but almost everyone will respond with… “I heard it was built in the 1700’s… out of chestnut”. (For the record… I’ve never seen a log cabin from the 1700’s built out of chestnut, and I doubt if there is one)
The reason I ask for more information when someone calls is that 9 out of 10 times that I go look at a old building it turns out to be a wasted trip. As much as I love a good road trip, I’d rather spend my time building… or just hanging out with my family.
Driving to the other side of the state to look at a house or a barn can easily take my entire day.
I heard long ago that every successful door-to-door salesman rejoices with every rejection knowing that it’s all about the odds and that with each failure he is getting a little closer to that eventual prize. And, that is the attitude that I adopted with my adventures.
Even if the building I’m going to see doesn’t work out, I try my best to enjoy meeting this new person that is put in front of me, and savoring this new part of the state that I get to visit. I have seen more of the back roads of the old dominion than most, from the cotton fields of the southeast to the stone walls of the northwest… I do love Virginia… and the people that live here.
The first impression of this house (other than the charring visible outside of a second story window) was that she appeared to be a house out of 1920’s… “John Boy’s era”… “the greatest generation”… but certainly not the greatest period of Virginia architecture.
She was… a plain Jane.
A journey around to the side of the house was a real treat though. The property’s owner had pulled away some of the siding to reveal a breathtakingly beautiful log cabin. Large logs, with full-dovetail notches, all heartpine. OMG
Heartpine log cabins are the most attractive cabins that you will ever see, but they are very rare. Most weren’t cared for and either rotted away or the bugs ate them up.
Full dovetail notching is also very rare. Mostly found in books and not in real life practice. They are overly complicated to produce and their very nature, of bringing moisture into a joint and causing it to rot out, kept most people from using them in the building of their home.
I wanted this cabin.
Until I walked inside.
The cabin only comprised one end of the entire home, clearly built during a much earlier period. This section of the home was where the fire had raged. The entire cabin’s interior had been charred… not just blackened… but burned away.
The only salvage value here would be to take the logs to a sawmill and see what lumber could be obtained by slicing her up. I didn’t have the heart for that. So, I gave the fellow a couple phone numbers of people that do that type of salvaging and walked away with these three photos and the lost dream of what could have been one mighty fine cabin.
Originally posted 2015-03-14 17:02:43.