Hampton Scout's smokehouse project wows Depreciation Lands Museum officials
One wonders how David Antol hoisted 32 logs to build the Depreciation Lands Museum's towering new smokehouse in Hampton.
“Scout power,” said Antol, 17, an aspiring architect.
A Hampton High School senior, Antol recently earned the highest award given by the Boy Scouts of America for building the 12-foot smokehouse as his Eagle Scout service project.
“You have to see it to believe it. It's that good,” said Dan Connolly, president of the Depreciation Lands Museum Association. “It is something that we will use here for generations to come.”
Antol — the only child of accountants Denis and Kim Anna Antol of Hampton — belongs to Boy Scout Troop 17, based at Parkwood Presbyterian Church on Mt. Royal Boulevard. He organized fellow Scouts and their fathers to help build the smokehouse with mostly donated goods and services.
For starters, the Scouts and fathers felled two dozen, 40-foot red pine trees at a Butler County farm. Jones Sawmill, also in Butler County, then turned the trees into logs.
The new smokehouse features a door of shiplap pine — pine boards with overlapping edges — to keep out moisture and 18th-century-style steel hinges, handmade and donated by blacksmith Robert Selvaggio of Buffalo Township, Butler County.
Antol used hand tools to create the half-dovetail joints that connect the logs at each corner of the smokehouse.
The smokehouse has a dirt floor with a circular brick-lined fire pit.
“We're very proud of it,” said Kent Maier of Shaler, a member of the board of directors of the Depreciation Lands Museum Association. “I think it's the best Eagle Scout project I've ever seen.”
Maier, a retired Allegheny County police officer, guided Antol's project and made the smokehouse door.
Scout rules mandate that prospective Eagle Scouts perform their service projects for a religious or nonprofit community group. Antol began planning the smokehouse in March 2010.
“I came to the museum looking for a project,” he said. “I was 14 when this started.”
Antol personally invested 113 of the total 726 hours donated by people to build the smokehouse.
Completed in late September, the smokehouse sits on an 8-foot-by-8-foot foundation of field stones collected at the site of a demolished home near Wildwood Road and Route 8.
The Depreciation Lands Museum will use the smokehouse to demonstrate how people preserved meats and fish during the 18th century on the western Pennsylvania frontier.
Folks used to first pack the meats and fish in salt to dry out the flesh, according to Maier.
“Then it would be rinsed off and hung to dry in the smokehouse,” he said.
“You have to keep a low fire going,” Maier said. “You don't want a big fire.”
It usually took one week per inch of thickness to dry out a slab of meat and less time for fish, Maier said.
“If you had a ham 8 inches thick, it would take eight weeks,” Maier said. “It's not a cooking process. It's a preserving process.”
Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.