Landmark News Service
Think life-sized Lincoln Logs. That’s how Andy Mills describes his job of tearing down and rebuilding antique cabins.
Mills, who owns and operates American Antique Cabin Co. in Springfield, spent last week single-handedly rebuilding an early 1800s-era cabin on the Jacob Hiestand House Museum property in Campbellsville.
It’s the final part of a project which will represent an 1820s-era plantation slave quarters. The site had earlier been prepared by Utah Canada, Mike Dobson and Rodney Dudley.
The project is an initial step in the Hiestand House Foundation’s plan to recreate a period-accurate plantation on the Hiestand House property off KY 210. The Hiestand House dates back to 1823.
The cabin is a dogtrot-style structure. Popular in the south, a dogtrot is essentially two cabins joined by a shared roof.
The cabin had rested near the Ohio River, not far from the town of Mooleyville.
“A guy called me and asked me to come look at it,” Mills said. “The day I was going down there, Betty Jane [Gorin-Smith] called me.”
Mills, who works alone, took the structure down, transported it to his Springfield lot and reassembled it, replacing any bad logs and drilling holes for electrical wiring.
The original section of the Mooleyville cabin was built sometime between 1790 and 1820, while the other half was built in the 1820s.
Mills said he had to replace a few logs of the cabin. A few had deteriorated due to age, while at least a couple fell victim to termites.
When Mills replaces wood, he makes sure to use the same type of wood, with the same look.
“This one was mostly oak, with a few poplar logs and a few chestnut logs.”
Using a crane to lift the logs into position, Mills adds sealant and hammers the logs into place.
In an average year, Mills will take down and rebuild about 25 cabins. This year, he has worked on about 18.
The cabins Mills has rebuilt have been used as second homes, offices and - like the Hiestand project - museum pieces.
Unless he steps in, the buildings would most likely be razed or lost to the ravages of time.
“Historically, there is not a market for this in Kentucky, but I like to keep them in the state as much as possible. This is a part of the heritage that will never happen again.”
The Jacob Hiestand House Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Guided tours are available for $2. Admission for children under 18 with parents is free. Group rates are available.
For more information, or to donate money or time to the foundation’s projects, call 789-4343.