Restoration of a second log cabin is about a quarter complete at Garlo Heritage Nature Preserve.
Known as the Hoepf-Elchert cabin, the structure is the third building in the Seneca County Park District's historic village area. It was donated by Hank Elchert and his mother from its longtime location east of New Riegel on TR 94.
Another family that wishes to remain anonymous donated $10,000 toward reconstruction costs as a memorial for a deceased son.
The cabin as it looked before it was dismantled.
PHOTO BY VICKI JOHNSON
Zeiter Blacksmith Shop, Hedges-Miller cabin and the start of the Hoepf-Elchert cabin as they stand Monday in the historic building area at Garlo Heritage Nature Preserve.
The roof waits to be returned to the top of the log sides.
The money will cover most of the estimated $12,000 cost, said project chairman and park district board member Roy Zinn. The remainder is being taken from funds left over from the first cabin restoration.
"That's projected based on the other cabin," he said. "But the last roof was donated. This one we have to pay for."
Zinn said a good portion of log reconstruction is complete after it was dismantled earlier this summer.
"We completely tore it down, marked the logs and moved then on a trailer," Zinn said. "We took a lot of pictures and marked each log (in) two different places in case we lost one mark."
Instead of deconstructing the roof section, Zinn said Clouse Construction employees used their equipment to remove the roof and the first round of logs in one piece.
"We now have that tin off the roof and those roof rafters are mortise and tenon," he said, which is an old method of joining wood at an angle using a mortise hole cut into the wood and fitted with a tenon cut from the adjoining piece.
The roof is held in place by wooden pins at the four corners.
"That's why we moved it from the pin on up," Zinn said.
Volunteers have put in 1,019 hours so far.
"On this project, we've had more of a mix of volunteers," he said. "And we have companies that help us. It's really nice to have a community that supports us like that."
The Hoepf-Elchert cabin won't look identical to the Hedges-Miller cabin, which was the first to be restored, Zinn said.
"The idea is, these are not going to be two alike log houses," he said. "They are going to show some differences in how log houses were erected 150-some years ago."
The square footage is similar to the first cabin, he said. Both are 18 feet by 22 feet.
But the Hoepf-Elchert cabin is one row of logs higher than the first. The 10th row of logs allows the upper floor to be higher.
A majority of logs in the cabin are beech, with some white oak and walnut.
"There wasn't one beech log in the Hedges-Miller house," he said. "The bottom line, as I understand it, is you wanted logs that were roughly the same size to maintain the same height all the way around. There was also the issue of close proximity."
Several original logs were too rotten to be reused, he said.
"We're replacing logs with white ash because Roland (Zimmerman) and I both have trees that are dead or dying from emerald ash borer and because we have those to give to the park district," he said.
The logs and lumber are being cut at Kenneth Detterman's sawmill.
"We're six rounds up on a 10-round house," he said. "We were marveling as we cut two notches (in new logs). They used axes, and we're doing it with chain saws and wood chisels. A wood chisel is still the way to get exactly what we want. A hammer and a sharp chisel."
Other parts also needed to be replaced.
"The floor joists were deteriorated to the point that we are using barn beams out of a barn up north of here," Zinn said.
On the second floor, joists are being cut for new replacements.
Zinn said he hasn't done a lot of research on the cabin's history yet, but he plans to.
"A granddaughter of a lady who was, I think, born in this log house is a resource I've got to investigate further, as well as county land records," he said.
The house was built by Frank X. Hoepf, who emigrated from Germany. He farmed in partnership with Andrew Elchert, Hank's great-grandfather.
At one point, the Hoepf farm - and the house - was sold to the Elchert family.
"Seventy years ago, it was moved, skidded, by Hank Elchert's father from its site back in the woods and moved closer to the road," Zinn said.
The second cabin restoration is part of a long-range plan to create a historical village.
"When we only had Garlo (as the only park), and about the time we got Forrest (Nature Preserve) 10 or 11 years ago, we got a grant and hired a firm to plan that high-use area at Garlo as a historic area," Zinn said. "There's an overall plan to it."
The first historic building erected at the site was the Zeiter Blacksmith Shop in 2004. It was donated by the children of John Jacob "Jake" Zeiter from southeast of Bloomville in Bloom Township.
"We moved it and reconditioned it," he said. "Inside, we have a forge from the same Elchert family (that donated the log cabin under restoration)."
There also are two smaller forges.
The first log cabin restoration began in spring 2010, and the majority of the 1850 Hedges-Miller Cabin was completed in 2011. The cabin was donated to the park district in 2002 by Dorothy Miller and stored until funds were available for restoration.
The park district is open to the donation of more log houses, but they must come with funds for restoration.
"The timing has to be right and the financing has to be right," he said.
"It's Roland and my dream to have a log barn," he added. "However, you got to do one thing at a time."