From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Historic Log House Is No More

A house I should have photographed



For the first eight years or so that we lived out here, we drove by an old log house every time we went to Hopkinsville.

The structure was actually two two-story log houses ("pens") built side by side with one roof over all. The "dogtrot" between the two "pens" was the entrance hall. It had a wide front porch that must have been perfect for watching the sunset and the traffic on the road. The balcony on the second floor was the same size as the front porch. A massive stone chimney stood on each end of the house.

We used the log house as a distinctive landmark when we gave directions to our house. We talked about how interesting it was to have such a unique, historic building in the neighborhood. We even met the family who lived in it.

I don't know why I never took a picture of that exceptionally fine old house, but I didn't.

One day, as I drove home from town, I was shocked to see that house going up in flames. The volunteer fire department had arrived, but they were unable to keep it from burning down. The next day, little remained but smouldering ashes, scorched trees, and the chimneys.

A few months later, the family bought a modular home and put it on the site where the old log house had stood. I still drive by their place every time I go to town, and I often think of the big old log house that once stood there.

The house is still listed as the "McClellan House" in the National Register of Historic Places for Kentucky. I guess they don't realize that it no longer exists. The construction date is estimated as 1800-1824. It would have been one of the first homes in this part of the county.

In the library, I found a book with photographs of all the Christian County sites that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It has two photos of the old log house, so I photocopied that page and brought it home.

It's not the same as having a photograph that I took myself, though.

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4 comments:

Mark said...

It's sad. The house my father grew up in was lost, not to fire, but to progress, that other destroyer of our past. It's not that there was anything particularly special about it. It's just that every time something like that happens, we forget a little bit more about the people that came before us.

Genevieve said...

Mark,

Neglect is another destroyer you can add to the list. For me, it was painful to see the big wooden barn in disrepair on the ranch where I grew up. It is probably beyond salvage now. To me, that barn represented the age of workhorses. They really don't build barns like that anymore.

I see some of the fine old buildings in downtown Hopkinsville deteriorating to the point that they'll never be fixed. In another 10 or 20 years, they'll be declared a public hazard and torn down. It's such a shame.

Peggi Meyer Graminski said...

Hi Genevieve - I hope you are doing well...that's really a sad post about the log cabin. We recently moved to Madison County, Illinois - just a few blocks away we have a historic log cabin. You've inspired me to get a photo of it (it's from the 1840's and the local fiber guild holds their meetings there). It's a lovely old place, and part of the history - the town would not be the same without it.

Genevieve said...

I am doing well, Peggi, and I hope you are also. You've survived the move -- it must be a relief to have some order in your life again.

Yes, I really regret that I never photographed that log house. I'm sorry that it burned but I couldn't have done anything to prevent that. However, I could at least have got a picture of it while it was standing!

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