In an effort to preserve one of the area’s most historical buildings, work began last week on the Cave Spring Log Cabin.
The two-story cabin, which was discovered two years ago under the façade of the old Green Hotel in downtown Cave Spring, was built around the 1820s or earlier, several experts suggest.
Investigation is being done by Georgian De Weese of the University of Georgia — dendrochronology archaelogical tests — to determine the age of the logs.
The $16,000 restoration project literally lifted the northwest corner of the cabin about five inches on Wednesday, said Cabin Committee Chair Billy Wayne Abernathy.
Local contractor Jesse Hamrick was assigned the renovations and repairs, and oversaw the giant forklift that lifted the cabin’s deteriorating foundation. The work continues to be done under the advisement of historical preservation consultant Tim Reilly.
The project got under way just as the cabin was named as one of the “2013 Places in Peril” by the Georgia Trust. While the deterioration has become almost irreversible, members of the Cave Spring Historical Society are optimistic that the historic treasure ultimately can be preserved.
“It’s going really well,” Abernathy said of the recent restoration efforts. “We were worried about the stabilization of it, but it’s fixed now.”
New foundation piers were installed beneath the floor level on the northwest corner of the structure as well as new sill boards on the main horizontal foundation logs, Abernathy explained. The chimneys were repointed two weeks ago. Abernathy said a new tin roof will be installed on the north side of the structure some time after Thanksgiving, but before Christmas.
The south side of the structure already has a serviceable roof, he said, and the long-awaited work has stabilized the structure, protecting it from the elements.
Cave Spring Historical Society member Dianna Edwards Haney said it was quite an experience to watch the developments of the project because, before the repairs began, the logs had become separated, much like the teeth on a comb.
“They’re going to snap it all back in place,” Haney said. “We’re going to see the building work together in a way that it was designed to … It brings the structure together holistically.”
The work is being paid for by donations from the public as well as corporations, Abernathy said.
More than $18,000 has been raised so far this year, and the historical society took out a bank loan to pay for the $145,000 cost of the property. More fundraising is expected to pay for the additional restoration work that lies ahead. The Founders’ Day Ball, a major fundraiser, is scheduled for Feb. 9, 2013.
Experts, both paid and unpaid, have assisted in the ongoing research and restoration work.
Jeff Bishop, president of the Trail of Tears Association, is completing more historical research aimed at getting state certification for the cabin. Using available documentation, his research is being conducted at the University of West Georgia’s Center for Public History.
Haney said if it weren’t for Hamrick, the cabin would not have been discovered in the first place.
“Jesse was the first guy to rediscover the cabin,” Haney said, explaining that Hamrick spotted a visible cabin log in the old hotel’s exterior. “It’s really appropriate that Jesse is doing this work, because without him we would have never known about it.”