Salvaging a log house


By Rick Palsgrove
Southeast Editor

Messenger photo by Rick Palsgrove
Darryl Hughes prepares to get back to work salvaging the logs from a log house believed to have been built in Groveport in the mid-19th century.

Some pioneer era log homes still exist in many communities, but they are hidden under clapboard or modern vinyl siding.

“If you look around an old town, like Groveport, and if you know what you are looking for, you can spot an old log house,” said Darryl Hughes.

One such hidden log house is located on the northeast corner of College and Canal streets in Groveport. Hughes is dismantling the house and saving the logs so he can rebuild the structure elsewhere.

The mid-19th century era structure is covered in modern vinyl siding and has an addition on the back that is not original.

Hughes plans to salvage the oak logs and other woodwork from the original two story, 18×24 foot log house front portion of the structure.

Hughes, who owns a farm near Lithopolis and who a few years ago was the building official for the city of Groveport, said he has always been interested in having his own log house.

“When I worked in Groveport the log house in Groveport’s Heritage Park inspired me,” said Hughes. “I like the old wood and the history. I like old stuff. I prefer ‘old’ any day.”

Hughes said his goal is to either reassemble the structure and add it to his farmhouse as a master bedroom or, if there is not enough good material to be salvaged for that, he could build a one story log house on some property he has at Burr Oak.

So far, he said he has only found one bad log, which is water damaged because it is under leaky window.

He is dismantling the log house by hand so he can preserve as much of the original material as he can.

“This was a big log house for its era,” observed Hughes. “It may have been one of the nicer ones, too, based on some things I’ve found.”

As he uncovered the walls and ceilings, Hughes discovered something interesting about the original hand hewn wood ceiling joists.

“The joists had decorative grooves cut into them and were whitewashed, so that means they were originally exposed and were meant to be seen,” said Hughes.

He said the house also has tongue and groove wood in the ceiling, which he hopes to reuse.

He also found layers upon layers of elaborate wallpaper on the walls. Some of the wallpaper had a backing of newspapers from 1888 and 1895.

“It’s like peeling an onion to take it off,” he joked.

Other discoveries he came across during the dismantling process include a small corked bottle and wooden pins holding the interior roof planks in place, as well as the remnants of the original staircase that had been hidden behind modern remodeling.

Another quirk in the house can be seen in the interior of the second floor where the original brick chimney rises through the house and roof. The chimney goes up straight before it slightly curves before passing between rafters through the roof.

Hughes speculated the chimney was built that way on purpose, most likely because it was built after the rafters were in place. Rather than cut through the existing thick rafters, the builder adapted the chimney by curving it to miss the rafters.

“I’ve laid brick before and I can tell you it’s not easy to lay brick that way,” said Hughes.

Dismantling and rebuilding the old house is a big job, but Hughes likes the work.

“This has always been a dream of mine,” said Hughes. “This is not like work for me. It’s like a hobby. I like to keep busy.”

He hopes to have the house dismantled by Christmas and to start rebuilding it next summer.

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