The properly aged and seasoned logs needed to restore the historic Powel law firm in Rogersville don’t grow on the trees, but the city and county can strike a mutually beneficial deal to help with the facelift of the 220-year-old building.
An old log cabin that was moved to Laurel Run Park in the mid-1990s recently collapsed and is creating an eyesore and a safety hazard on the hiking trail that leads to Bays Mountain.
County Facilities Manager Sarah Davis informed the County Commission Parks Committee on Tuesday that Rogersville Building Inspector Steve Nelson, who oversees historic restoration efforts in the city, had inspected the fallen cabin .
Nelson said some of the logs can be salvaged and used in the law firm Powel’s restoration project, former Davis of the committee. Rogersville has offered to remove any fallen cabin debris from the trail and clean up the site in exchange for using the logs which can be salvaged.
The parks committee only had three of its seven members to show up for Tuesday’s meeting and, without a quorum, could not take any action or make a recommendation to the full commission.
The three members in attendance, Larry Clonce, Danny Alvis and President Jeff Barrett, discussed the city’s offer and informally agreed that it was a good idea.
Barrett asked Davis to prepare a resolution declaring the cabin surplus and agreeing to let Rogersville clean it. This resolution will be on the agenda for the county committee meeting on November 22.
Not much is known about the history of the cabin except that it was dismantled in another move and rebuilt in Laurel Run Park in the mid-1990s. Davis said she believed the move from the cabin was a Boy Scout project.
Park Superintendent John Young told the committee on Tuesday that he had cordoned off the cabin with warning tape because it was a safety hazard.
The Powel Law Firm, located on Washington Street near the intersection of Depot Street, was built around 1800 and was the office of Congressman, judge and local lawyer Samuel Powel when he moved to Rogersville in 1805.
Rogersville recently completed Phase 1 of the law firm’s restoration, which included replacing foundation stones and repointing existing stones.
A grant will be requested to pay for phase 2 which will include gutting the interior of the law firm, then replacing logs as needed.
“There are quite a few rotten logs (at law firm Powel) and logs that we will have to replace because they removed the doors and windows from the original configuration,” Nelson told Review. “Once I look up there (in the hut) some of these logs are going to be usable. I might still need one or two more to complete the law firm, but I think it’s going to go a long way. I thought the work to get them out and clean up the site was going to be less than buying the logs. They are terribly difficult to find.
Nelson added, “I don’t know how old these papers are. I just know they look very close. I’m not a scientist, but it looks like the same kind of logs the Powel law firm is made. The logs had the same patina, the same grain. He has aged the same kind of gray.
Nelson said he hoped to remove the logs quickly so they didn’t deteriorate further. He said the town has a machine narrow enough to go up the trail to the hut and get them out.
Nelson is working on cost estimates for Phase 2 of the restoration so he can apply for the next grant. Acquiring the logs is a big part of Phase 2.
“To do the exterior, we’re going to have to gut the interior,” Nelson said. “When you re-cut the logs, you have to stick to the logs all the way. The next phase will consist of eviscerating the interior, then replacing the logs and resealing.
Phase 3 would likely replace the roof with an authentic 1800 shingle roof, and Phase 4 would restore the interior to its authentic 1800 look.
A specific use for the building has not been established, but it will likely be related to tourism.