The Log Cabin – A Historical Timeline
Update From Roger Austin — 2013
In 2013, one of the last remaining unmodified log cabins in the region was purchased by the Museum, an exciting event made possible by a timely donation and the willingness of its former owners, Gerald and Alberta Hyde, to part with it. It was located on Highway 68 west of Woodbridge Corners. The cabin components were cleaned, treated for insects, and placed in storage to allow study while awaiting reconstruction. The cabin is 19 X 24 feet and clad with board and batten. The walls are built of wide virgin logs hewn on both sides and fit with pigeon-tail corners that require no pegging. The floor consists of wide boards of virgin timber nailed to heavy hewn sleepers extending the width of the house. The ceiling is supported by 6 X 6 hewn joists only 6 feet above the floor. There is a sleeping loft under the roof. There is a 14 foot wide shed-roofed addition across the back of the original house. One section is of hewn timbers and the other is of hewn and sawn timbers.
In May of 2015 the museum began the first phase of its relocation and restoration. This included documentation, disassembly, and insect treatment of the entire wood en structure. Each log, board, and rafter was carefully tagged, photographed, and measured. When readied, the components will be transported to a storage building. Once stored, all the data will be reviewed and plans will be made for its erection and restoration at the Museum.
Update From Roger Austin — May 2015
During the past two weeks, we have prepared the log cabin for either being moved as a unit or dismantling it and moving the components. To date the lean-to shed on the back has been dismantled; the roof has been removed; all electrical, plumbing, and heating connections have been disconnected; notes and photographs were taken; and a detailed study of the structure made. Because of the unexpected design of the buildings, separate floor and walls, side and front/rear walls at different elevations and the compromised front rot and window cutouts, we have decided that moving it in one piece is not possible. Beginning Tuesday, the last of the interior and exterior cladding will be removed and the logs will be taken down one at a time. Jerry Crossett will provide a 30′ trailer and loader Tuesday afternoon. A hired crew will do the heavy work. Key components will be labeled. By week’s end, I expect to have the cabin and all its materials moved to the Museum. I currently plan to stack it a bit south of the BBQ shed and build a temporary roof to protect the materials. I’d welcome any better suggestions. We will be taking careful measurements of the foundations. I do not expect the building to be reconstructed until next year. – Roger Austin
The Lost Diamond Ring … Was Found!
As work started on the Log Cabin, I was told that a diamond ring had been lost inside one of the walls. I contacted Beverly Parmeter who had lived there for many years. She explained that 30 years ago her young son was playing in the loft and had gotten into her jewelry box. A diamond ring caught his eye. Suddenly the ring bounced away, fell down the crack between the floor and the wall, and down into the wall between the logs and paneling of the first floor. This May the final teardown of the wall was about to begin. The roof was gone. The next step was to remove the paneling downstairs.
Carol and I went over on a quiet Sunday afternoon. For the next three hours, we carefully removed two layers of wallboard and part of the ceiling tile that was in the way. We inspected every log and crevice, carefully cleaning each. Finally, no ring had been found. Carol took a dustpan and brush and gathered up all the grit and dust that had fallen on the floor, filling a 5-gallon pail. “I’ll take it home and sieve it,” she said. The work crew returned the next day. That afternoon my cell phone rang, and Carol spoke the magic words, “Guess what I found?” On Tuesday Beverley came out to the cabin, and Carol presented her the ring. The white gold ring is now in her daughter’s hands, to be saved until her granddaughter (now 7) is old enough to enjoy it.
Update From Roger Austin – May 29, 2015
The first phase of the log cabin project is about 95% finished. All the logs, steel roofing, and almost all of the lumber have been moved to the Museum. The only chore remaining is to salvage the subflooring of the lean-to which consists of very old, dense lumber, not to mention generally cleaning up the site. Carol and I will go over around 8:30-9:00 tomorrow and hope to finish that by noon. Any help would be very welcome.
D.D. Construction from Massena provided 4 men this final week to provide the skill and muscle to complete most of the work. As mentioned earlier, we found the Log Cabin impossible to move in one piece. Its design created a floor that sat separately from the cabin. Worse, the front of the cabin was seriously compromised by the addition of windows over time and some serious rot and insect infestation. So, Jerry Crossett got Roland LaFave, Jr.’s R and L Auto Crushers & Trucking to provide a 30’ flatbed trailer and hauled three loads of materials. Jerry himself and others drove the truck. Delivery was expedited by Gary Sayers and his big JD tractor with forks at the Museum three times. All the materials are stacked in piles just south of the BBQ Pavilion. In spite of removing countless nails, many remain and pose a hazard. The piles are temporarily flagged but need to be roped off. As time permits we will construct a shelter to protect the materials. We have nearly concluded our agreement with the former owner to have the building removed by the end of May so he can reclaim the ground for pasture.
We still need to study the detail of the foundation walls to determine the relative elevations of the cabin walls (front and rear are not the same as the sides) and that of the floor sleepers (joists). They are all different. We’ll also be studying the wall dimensions in more detail. Lots of work for everyone.
We have also collected a bucket of newspaper of various ages that had been used as chinking. It’s brittle and needs the hands of experts to unfold them and their history.
The story of the diamond ring was great fun. Beverly Parmeter was thrilled that it was found. Carol’s persistence and earlier training in anthropology and archeology paid off. When our slow three hours of tedious demolition on Memorial Day didn’t succeed, her careful screening of the fine debris did. Bev will become a new member.
The next 12 months will be spent on Phase 2, Planning. We need to learn all we can about the history of the cabin so we can plan an appropriate restoration. Decisions need to be made about its final design detail. I can’t find any evidence of it having had cladding when first built. The siding on the cabin that we encountered appeared to have been put on well after the logs had weathered. No other nail holes can be found. Chinking with split log and mortar seems to be the only weatherproofing. We found no hole in the wall for a fireplace. We found doors widened and windows added. There are so many details that it will take time to describe the entire cabin. Fortunately, we had an intern, Taylor Grant, to help sketch, record data, label logs, and take photographs. When you see the pile of stuff at the Museum, I’m sure you will wonder how it will ever go back together. I know I do, but we’ll succeed.
Phase 3, Reconstruction, will begin next year if funds permit. The first objective will be to design and construct a suitable foundation. Log repair/replacement and erection will follow. A roof will follow, though initially using the steel left over from the Schoolhouse project. It could take a couple years to get it all done, not to mention raising the funds.
Press Release From Watertown Daily Times (May 28, 2015)
LISBON — A historic log cabin on Route 68 that is being dismantled from its stone foundation has revealed some hidden treasures including a diamond ring missing for roughly 30 years.
Workers have spent the past several days carefully taking apart the 456 square foot structure between Canton and Ogdensburg that’s believed to date back to the early 1800s. The plan is to reconstruct the log cabin for a new frontier exhibit being planned at the St. Lawrence Power & Equipment Museum, 1755 Route 345, Madrid. The property already includes an 1850 schoolhouse, a farmhouse, a windmill and horse-drawn equipment.
Roger S. Austin, Secretary of the Museum’s Board of Directors, said it’s rare to find a log cabin this old and well-preserved in the north country, which makes it a valuable acquisition for the museum. “There’s a lot of weathering in the front, but most of the logs are in extraordinary condition,” Mr. Austin said. “We’ve done a lot of research, and we think it dates back to the 1830s.”
The log cabin will be the centerpiece for a new frontier exhibit the museum plans to set up at its grounds next summer. The logs all have been labeled so they can be attached again in the proper order. They’ll be stored at the museum grounds. “It will be a living history exhibit,” Mr. Austin said. “It will be furnished to match the time period, and we’ll show people doing things like cooking and chopping wood.”
The museum purchased the building from Gerald and Alberta Hyde, who lives across the highway at 4063 Route 68. It sits next to a timber frame barn, about 2.7 miles west of Woodbridge Corners. It was last occupied by Beverly J. Parmeter, who lived there from 1976 to 1989 with her two children, Melissa M. and Eric E. She recalled the day her son was upstairs, took her diamond ring from her jewelry box and dropped it between the wallboard and floorboard. “I used a flashlight, but I couldn’t find it,” she said. Earlier this week, Mr. Austin’s wife, Carol E., found the ring by sifting through a five-gallon bucket of construction debris she scooped up while helping her husband at the cabin site. She presented it to Mrs. Parmeter, Lisbon, who was overjoyed to be reunited with the long lost ring. “I can’t tell you how happy that makes me,” Mrs. Parmeter said as she embraced Mrs. Austin. “This is so unreal.” She plans to give the ring to her 7-year-old granddaughter, Jordan J. Parmeter, after having it cleaned and checked over by a jeweler. Mr. Austin said finding the ring was the “icing on the cake” for the log cabin project.
Besides the diamond ring, pieces of old local newspapers were discovered, including a scrap of a March 29, 1861, copy of the Advance News, Ogdensburg.
A crew from D.D. Construction, Massena, handled the dismantling project, which involved stripping boards and removing whitewashing and three coats of paint from the cabin’s exterior. James A. Sabre, a crew member, said it was interesting to see the craftsmanship that went into constructing the cabin two centuries ago. “It has historical value,” he said. “You learn how people did this type of work before modern tools.”
Log Cabin Moved, Awaits Reconstruction (May 30, 2015)
Many surprises emerged as the Log Cabin from the Town of Lisbon was prepared for its move to the Museum. Most of the cabin is in good condition. However, the bottom logs on the front had been destroyed by rot. In the basement we found very thick stone walls supporting the cabin logs as expected. Not expected was finding that the sleepers (floor joists) rested not on the bottom log or sill, but on the inside of the wide stone wall. The floor and the walls were not connected! It had been assumed that we could remove the roof and slide the cabin onto a flatbed truck. However, this proved impossible. The roof was removed. Then the siding, interior modern paneling, and floorboards were carefully removed. Boards and logs were labeled. Finally, log by log, the cabin came down. Jerry Crossett and Roland LaFave of HD Agriculture Hauling volunteered to bring three loads of logs and lumber to the Museum. They were off-loaded with help from the Museum’s neighbor, Gary Sayer, and his tractor. The logs and lumber are now undercover, awaiting a new foundation. Reconstruction will be next year as funds permit.