A log cabin saved | Living the Country Life

A log cabin saved

An abandoned and dilapidated shack becomes a thing of beauty.
The stone waterfall in the foreground helps circulate water between the deep and shallow ends of Dave and Bets Hahns' swimming pond. Native grasses and perennials provide natural beauty for a pretty view from the swimming beach. The restored log cabin was discovered by Dave as a dilapidated shack at a property just a few miles from the farm.
Dave and Bets Hahn completely dismantled, moved, and reassembled the log cabin at their farmstead in Nappanee, Indiana. They researched how to seal the logs with cement mortar, similar to how the settlers chinked the logs together when the cabin was built around 1860.

A vision

Bets Hahn couldn't imagine what her husband, Dave, saw when he fell in love with a dilapidated old shack 2 miles away from their pretty farmstead near Nappanee, Indiana. But instead of focusing on the boarded-up windows, rotting roof, and a mess left by a family of raccoons, Dave envisioned restoring the cabin and saving a small piece of Elkhart County's history, along with creating a neat gathering spot for family parties.

"You have to have a vision or it would just be a long job," says Dave of the two-year remodeling project that transformed the cabin into a quaint clubhouse now situated near the Hahns' swimming pond.

The 22x26-foot cabin, which Dave and Bets believe was built around 1860 by local settler Christian Stouder, has a new wraparound porch, sleeping loft, and wood-burning fireplace. Inside, a 16-foot antique harvest table provides ample room for feeding a crowd.

Moving the cabin

Dave struck a deal to obtain the cabin in 2004 in exchange for removal and clearing the ground. The first job was to clean out piles of debris and to remove the old roof, two garage doors, and sheets of drywall slapped over the walls inside. "We took out four dumpsters before we could move it," says Dave.

The couple's daughter Wendy, son-in-law Eric, son Ben, and daughter-in-law Lori often pitched in to help on weekends and evenings. The Hahns carefully dismantled, labeled, and power-washed the cabin's poplar logs one by one. The logs were then loaded onto a trailer and transported to the Hahn farmstead.

Dave and Bets moved to the farm in 1974 shortly after they were married. They raised crops and operated a dairy herd there until 1989 when they moved to town and Dave went to work for a local oil company. He also works part time for his family's auctioneering service; Bets works as a cafeteria manager for the local school district.

In 2001, Dave and Bets bought 4 acres, including the farmhouse and buildings, from Dave's parents and they moved back onto the farm. They remodeled the white frame house with new windows, drywall, and doors. They also added a sun room and new landscaping. In 2003, they dug a quarter-acre swimming pond. The tiny log cabin was just the accessory to give the place a unique, homespun look. "It dressed things up a lot," says Dave.


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