When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to play with was Lincoln Logs. I loved assembling little houses out of the notched-wood logs, but I always found it frustrating that they were so small. One set of Lincoln Logs (which is all my grandparents had) was enough, at best, to make a two-room cabin, and even back then I liked my buildings on the grander side. One thing that never occurred to me, however, in the countless times I built and re-built those houses, is that it was possible to do the same thing in real life, with a real building like this one. Lincoln Logs for grownups!
The cabin, located in Catlett, Virginia, features hand-hewn logs and dates back to 1800. Unlike my childhood creations, it's two stories and more than two rooms (or so the inclusion of beaded pine board wall partitions and batten interior doors would suggest). I'm not gonna lie, if I were willing to move 45 miles away from my job, doing so to re-assemble a historic log cabin would absolutely be the coolest.
On the fancier side of the historic re-assembly market is the Italianate Biemann-Hughs House in Walhalla, South Carolina. Constructed in 1888, this L-shaped house features 11 rooms (five bedrooms, two bathrooms) and a double veranda. Included in the purchase price are the original antique fixtures such as toilets, bathtubs, windows, mantles, and doors -- along with the plans, photos, and a walk-through DVD to assist in re-assembling the home to its earlier appearance. (I'm pretty sure child-me would have loved building the dollhouse version of this - so much more spacious than my Lincoln Log homes!)
Of course, not all of the distressed properties on our Historic Real Estate website require assembly - many are still standing but in need of rehabilitation. Take Cincinnati's historic Our Lady of Perpetual Help church for example. Vacant since 1989, it needs extensive interior renovation, but is structurally sound. It sounds like a lovely building, with ornamental brickwork, a rose window, an interior balcony, and a 170-foot spire. And over in Chanute, Kansas, an early 20th century Main Street storefront block is in search of a new owner. As currently configured, the building offers five ground floor commercial spaces - some with original wood trim and floors and tin ceilings - along with with five corresponding apartments upstairs. It needs some TLC in the form of restoration, but seems like a great opportunity.
And for those reading this for whom all the talk of assembly and restoration seem daunting - never fear! The Historic Real Estate site has plenty of move-in ready listings, too, so hop on over and see what's available in your town!
Sarah Heffern is a member of the Digital and New Media team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Writing this post has given her the urge to go build something, but she suspects her skills may still be in the Lincoln Log phase.