New Life for a Maryland Log Cabin

Posted on: December 3rd, 2012 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 3 Comments

Laurie Burch had originally intended to spruce up her 1878 log cabin outside of Hancock, MD, and rent it out to hikers before eventually deciding that it was just too far off the beaten path.

Thankfully, the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC), a nonprofit organization that partners with the National Park Service, the National Forest Service, and numerous state agencies and is responsible for maintaining and monitoring more than 1,200 miles of trails, more than 1,000 acres of land, and 85 cabins and shelters in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, knew just what to do with it.

“She reached out to the club and said, 'If you want it, come get it,'” says Tom Avey, a PATC member.

And that’s just what the group did.

The idea, pioneered by club member John Corwith, was to take the cabin -- which had been continuously occupied until around 1990 -- apart and reconstruct it on a 25.3-acre plot the club owned just off the trail near Old Rag Mountain in Madison County, Va. The project started in September 2011 when club members began discussing permits with Madison County officials to rebuild the cabin on county land.

After the weather warmed, between 10 and 12 volunteers began deconstructing the two-story cabin in Hancock. After debris was cleaned out of the cabin, the group stripped the wood siding off the logs and took off the doors and windows. The tin roof was removed and the chimney, which had been built on an angle, had to be taken apart one piece at time.

Then came the tedious process of attaching ropes to each individual log and lowering them down the side of the cabin to be stacked. Before they were removed, each log was given a metal tag and numbered so that the structure could be reassembled easily.

In the meantime, the group contracted with a professional engineer to design the septic system and well specifications (some of the few elements that were not completed entirely by volunteers). Volunteers then formed and poured new footers. In just one day this October, the Lincoln Loggers, as the group called itself, loaded and transported the logs to their new home in Madison County.

Going forward, the group plans to reconstruct the cabin with a few small alterations. The first floor will be left as a living space, but the second floor will be converted into separate sleeping areas. There will also be an addition on the back of the structure to house a kitchen and ADA-compliant bathroom facilities as well as a screened-in porch and a large deck. Once the work is completed, the cabin will be available for members of the PATC to rent.

“Every weekend we go out there, the parking lot [near the trailhead] is packed with cars,” says Avey of the new site. “So I think a lot of people will take advantage of it.”

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National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Architecture, Restoration

3 Responses

  1. Cher@NewburghRestoration

    December 4, 2012

    Great example for those who think structures like these can not be saved or reused!

  2. Kristi Miniello (Happy Little Tree, AT 2005/2011)

    December 6, 2012

    A win-win for the AT and preservationists!

  3. Marty Vittore

    December 20, 2012

    Please don’t put those ugly vinyl-clad windows back.