Here’s a beautiful log house that’ll be demolished this year or next. Its owners are open to someone taking it down, and if not, they’ll likely topple it and extract the logs for use elsewhere. Want to salvage one of these things? It sits in eastern Winneshiek County on top of an incredibly exposed knoll. It was lived in until just two years ago. I don’t blame them for abandoning it, though. The house was neglected for half a century. And damn, it must have been miserable to spend the winter in there! So, it needs a new owner and a new location.
The house was undoubtedly Norwegian built (like I say they all were). The log part is the right half, the part that has the front door with the window to its right. Notice the ghost mark where the front porch once stood. The framed addition to its left measures 15′ x 24′ and was likely built between 1870 and 1890. How old is the original log core? I’d guess 1850s-1860s. It’s pretty incredible how intact the whole thing remains: original bevelled lap siding, 2/2 sash windows with pediment hoods, 6″ pine tongue and groove flooring, beadboard wall and ceiling covering throughout, etc, etc, etc.
The log part measures just 16′ x 18′ and is a story and a half in height. From the few failed siding pieces I could peek behind the logs were oak and the corners were full dovetailed. The logs run from eave to eave, meaning they stop where the roof gable begins. The gable is framed in conventional 2″ x 4″ lumber, a roof system that I’d say accounts for 80% of log houses in NE Iowa. The other 20% have logs that extend to the peaks of the gables. Notice how the basement was at one time just a crawl space and later dug to full cellar depth. The two feet or so of coursed Plattville stone above the red brick mark the original crawl space. The crawl space was dug out from inside (underneath the floor…yuk!) and the brick walls constructed below the stone. Digging out a crawl space into a cellar from underneath the original floor was quite common. I know many examples of this.
Last fall I debated taking on this project for my workshop. This house is the perfect candidate to move whole in two separate parts- the log part and the framed part. They’d easily disconnect and reconnect on a new foundation. Once on a new foundation you’d have to strip the siding from the log house part and replace the rotten sill logs. At that point you could spray foam between the siding furring strips and reapply the siding. The same approach would be taken with the framed addition. Remove the siding, replace the rotten sills and splice-in repair any rotten wall studs that came in contact with the sills, spray foam between the studs, reside and repair as needed, repair/replace any window frames and sashes that are rotten, and presto! You’d have an incredibly tight and efficient house. Any takers?