Log cabin from 1930 makes a delicate and successful journey

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 October 2020 at 8:13 pm

Historical Association moves cabin from Albion backyard to behind Gaines Basin cobblestone schoolhouse

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – A log cabin, built by Boy Scouts and one of their dads in 1930, was moved about 4 miles today from a backyard in Albion to behind the historic Gaines Basin No. 2 cobblestone school on Gaines Basin Road.

Keeler Construction volunteered to take the cabin on this flatbed trailer. It is shown in the top photo headed down Route 98 in Albion near Oak Orchard Lanes.

“I’m very relieved,” said Rick Ebbs, who braced the cabin, wrapped it in plastic and coordinated the move. “I was worried it would fall apart.”

Keeler employee Chad Plummer and three highway workers from the Town of Gaines – Seth Dumrese, Jeff Page and Brian Burke –  showed up at about 8 this morning in Ralph and Patricia Moorhouse’s backyard on Linwood Avenue. They donated the cabin to the Orleans County Historical Society.

Mrs. Moorhouse’s father, Faris Benton, was one of the scouts who built the cabin with help from his father, Fred Benton. The scouts dragged logs from the nearby woods. They built a fireplace on the inside and outside. That fireplace has deteriorated but will be reset and repaired in its new location.

Mrs. Moorhouse said three generations of the family and many neighborhood kids enjoyed the cabin. Her husband put a new roof on about 40 years ago and that helped preserve the cabin.

Mike Gillette takes a photo of the site where he often hung up with friends as a kid. He is joined by his dog, Cooper. The fireplace will be moved and reset at the new spot for the cabin on Gaines Basin Road.

Gillette, 57, took a day off from work to see the cabin’s move.

“We spent a lot of time in the cabin as kids,” he said. “It was the neighborhood fort.”

After trick-or-treating on Halloween, Gillette said he and his friends would gather in the cabin to check out their candy and trade. They had cider and doughnuts.

The 10-by-14-foot log cabin had withered in recent years, partly due to woodchucks. They damaged the concrete floor causing it to heave.

“It was pretty feeble,” he said about the cabin. “I am impressed with the job they did bracing it to get ready for the move.”

Keeler starts the trip down Linwood Avenue. It took the cabin down Main Street (Route 98) before turning left on Bacon Road. From there it turned left to Gaines Basin Road, stopping at the school just north of the Erie Canal.

Pat Moorhouse said it was difficult to watch the cabin be moved today.

“It’s a lot of memories for our family,” she said. “It’s so sad to see it go. But knowing it will be preserved, it just makes sense.”

That schoolhouse, built in 1832, has been the focus of an intense preservation effort in recent years by the Orleans County Historical Association. It is the oldest documented cobblestone building in the area.

The Historical Association thought the log cabin, which was built by children, was a good fit next to a school.

The Town of Gaines Highway Department brought a payloader and backhoe to help lift the cabin onto Keeler trailer and then take it off. Brian Burke is at left and Seth Dumrese is at right.

Rick Ebbs watches to see how the cabin is lining up on a concrete pad and a new base. Ebbs prepped the cabin for the move and also built the new base for the cabin.

The Gaines highway workers set the cabin in place. The entire process took about 2 hours this morning.

Bill Lattin, the retired county historian, thanked the Moorhouse family for donating the cabin.

“It’s a unique building,” he said. “It’s a facet of local history involving scouts. It shows the ingenuity the scouts took in creating such a structure.”

Al Capurso, one of the leaders of the Historical Association, talked a few years ago about building a new log cabin at the Cobblestone Museum. Lattin was aware of the log cabin in the Moorhouse backyard. He thought it would be better to preserve the cabin rather than try to build a new one. Capurso supported that effort.

The Moorhouses were receptive, and even donated $1,000 to help with the relocation effort.

Lattin sees the cabin being used again by scouts once the chimney and fireplace are reset and the cabin strengthened. The scouts have plenty of space to camp with tents and do cookouts.

“Once this is done it will be a very good camp site for scouts,” Lattin said.

He marveled at the cabin which has endured nearly a century. The scouts in 1930 dragged logs from nearby woods. They did all the notching, so the logs would fit tight.

“It was all hard hand work,” Lattin said. “It’s the only one like it in the world.”

Anyone interested in donating to the cabin, chimney and fireplace restoration is welcome to a send a check to the Orleans County Historical Association, PO Box 125, Albion NY 14411.

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