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Looking for some help: Funding needed for log cabin restoration

| Wednesday, May 19, 2004

MOUNT PLEASANT -- While demolishing a house on his property, Mount Pleasant resident Richard "Ditch" Farrell came across a "treasure" that not only can be considered priceless, but also a wonderful potential addition to the borough's history.

That "treasure" was an old log cabin buried deep within the walls of the house.

Mount Pleasant Area Historical Society President Richard Snyder was approached about the home, and the historical society quickly stepped in to inspect and examine the property. The historical society decided to purchase and refurbish the home, hoping to enable all to enjoy and appreciate what an authentic period homestead was actually like.

Given only until April to acquire the house, the historical society ran into some snags. However, the deadline was dropped and the society now has more time to accumulate the necessary funds to purchase and rehabilitate the home.

"The purchase of the house itself is only the beginning," explains society member Robert Schmidt who is on the committee to fund raise for the log home. The society also hopes to acquire the small 50-by-70-foot lot the home is presently sitting on, and then move the structure forward on the property so it is not set directly on the alley where it is now located. The refurbishing and reconstructing of the home may also prove to be costly. The society will be in need of a "big pile of supplies."

"The home will be unassembled and every piece will be removed and numbered," explains Schmidt, "then they will be put back together, just like a puzzle."

Each piece will be stored until it can be painstakingly cleaned and scrubbed in order to give the cabin a truly authentic look, he adds.

"When it is reassembled, it will be a very attractive cabin," says Snyder.

The society is hoping to retain the services of Robert Reintgen, a history teacher at Derry High School, as a consultant on the project. Reintgen has done several restorations in the past, and the society is impressed with his "visionary" outlook towards the property.

"Mr. Reintgen has been a wealth of information to us," says Schmidt "He is also going to do a timetable, with the work being done in stages," explains Juanita Zimmerman, a member of the Log Cabin Committee. "He's going to work us through it in stages."

Presently the cabin is boarded up. Most signs of the original structure are unseen to the general public, but the inside offers a little more of the sense of what the end product will be.

"He (Reintgen) made us see it through his eyes," says Schmidt.

The work will take some time because the society wants to duplicate the cabin as close to original as possible.

"A lot of the actual reconstruction will depend on the availability of some materials," adds Snyder.

The society hopes to be able to locate similar stone, period glass for the windows, and roofing materials, possibly from other homes or home sites of that period.

Reintgen, who has already inspected the property, feels that there was a loft area in the original structure, and that the structure itself may have only been used predominantly as a sleeping quarters, the inhabitants themselves spending most time outdoors, possibly hunting and farming.

Attempts to trace the history of the property have hit a bit of a stone wall, too, with presently available records only going back as far as 1862.

"We feel the property dates back to pre-Civil War (before 1861)," says Schmidt.

The society hopes to be able to trace the deed back to the first owners and then possibly naming the cabin after the family.

"We thought of calling it Mount Pleasant Homestead," explains Snyder, "but if we can locate the original owners, we'll name it after them."

The society needs approximately $28,000 to get the project started; $8,000 to purchase the cabin and $20,000 for the small lot it sits on. The society looked at other sites to move the cabin, but decided to leave it where it is.

"It's important to history to keep it on the same spot," explains Snyder. "It's more important to Mount Pleasant."

Contributions to the restoration have been slow, but the society hopes to raise monies, and members are looking for public contributors to this important historic project.

The 175th Anniversary Committee, now disbanded, has donated its proceeds from anniversary events to the Log Cabin Fund, and also all of its 175th souvenirs and memorabilia.

There are still Mount Pleasant Games available for purchase and a few other items as well. All items are available for purchase at the historical society office, located in the In-Town Shops on Main Street; 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of all souvenirs and memorabilia will go directly to the Log Cabin Fund.

Another tentative fund-raising idea is to make little souvenirs from pieces of the cabin itself. Workers found small chestnut blocks embedded in the "chinking," which is the material between the logs forming the walls. The society hopes to remove all the little blocks, clean them, and have a picture of a log cabin "branded" into them, using a specially made branding iron.

"That way they (purchasers) can have a piece of the original cabin," explains Schmidt.

The Mount Pleasant Rotary Club has donated $1,000. The society also received four other private donations of $1,000.

Someone recently sent a $5 bill, anonymously, to the society office simply marked "for the log cabin."

"We'd like to thank that person (who sent it)," says Snyder.

"And we would welcome about another thousand like it," adds Schmidt laughing.

The society would also welcome any contributions of building materials, supplies, and when the time comes, labor.

"We are going to need many volunteers for various types of work, from building to carpentry," explains Snyder.

Donations are tax deductible, and all contributions are greatly appreciated.

"The quicker we get more funds, the quicker we can get started," adds Zimmerman.

All donations are being recorded and names will all be entered as donors.

Contributions may be mailed to: Log Cabin Fund, c/o Mount Pleasant Area Historical Society, In-Town Shops, Mount Pleasant, PA 15666. For information or questions, call the society office at 724-547-9115.

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