Cabin fever

Madison’s Carr turns
old log home into summer retreat

Log cabin restoration has become
a current trend regionally

By Michella Marino
Contributing Writer

(June 2006) – Madison, Ind., resident Joe Carr, director of the Jefferson County Historical Society and Museum, spent years looking for the perfect old country house to buy and restore as a personal project, but his search proved harder than anticipated. Carr looked at stone houses in Jefferson County and brick ones in Trimble County, but nothing encompassed everything for which he was searching.

Joe Carr Cabin Construction

Photo provided by Joe Carr

Madison’s Wolfschlag Construction
meticulously works to relocate
the historic log cabin.

He finally decided to purchase land and go from there. Carr bought 44 acres in Green County, Ky., around the Mammoth Cave area with 5/8 mile overlooking the Green River. After he purchased the land, Carr decided to advertise in the Kentucky local papers for a log cabin to buy and restore. He finally found the one he wanted, but it was 25 miles away and would have to be moved to his new land.
Carr talked to some contractors in Green County but decided to go with Wolfschlag Construction in Madison. Carr has known the owner, Bob Wolfschlag, for 20 years and also used Wolfschlag Construction to restore his 1840s home on Third Street in downtown Madison. Wolfschlag and his crew tore down the log cabin, moved it to its new location and put it back together again.
“Joe wanted the cabin as original as it could go,” Wolfschlag said, so they did just that, right down to the stone fireplace, which Wolfschlag described like a jigsaw puzzle. They took it all apart and put it right back together. Wolfschlag Construction spent four months total work on Carr’s cabin.

Joe Carr Cabin

Photo provided by Joe Carr

The cabin, built sometime in the 1840s,
is restored to its original state.

Carr continued the restoration and also furnished the cabin himself with decorations and furniture he’s collected from Kentucky and Tennessee from the 1840s or earlier. Carr’s mother, Ruth Carr of Louisville, has helped in the restoration process as well. Carr even gave her a crowbar for Mother’s Day to help pry off the siding to expose the original logs.
Although Carr does want the cabin to be restored to its original state, he said, “I didn’t want to be too much of a pioneer,” so he included a modern bathroom and brand new kitchen with the cabin. It has full electricity, but Carr tries to hide the modern aspects to some extent.
Although Carr didn’t begin his project looking for a log cabin to restore, he believes that cabin restoration is a current trend. “Cabins are a big deal,” he said.
Greg Sekula, the director of the Southern Regional Office of the Foundation of Indiana Historic Landmarks, said that they have gotten a lot of calls over the years about restoring or restored log cabins. “We are seeing more and more interest in that type of thing,” Sekula said.

Joe Carr Cabin

Photo provided by Joe Carr

While it took workers almost four months
to move the cabin, the entire restoration
project took nearly four years.

Along with restoring the cabin, Carr has also enhanced his 44 acres of land. He has worked with the Kentucky Division of Wildlife and joined the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), which provides financial incentives to enhance the land around the Green River and Mammoth Cave.
The program provides money to plant trees on the land. Carr has done just that. He has planted around 7,000 walnut, red oak, dogwood and pecan trees on his land, along with wildflowers on the hillsides, and raspberries and apple trees.
Carr has named his restored cabin “Bachelor’s Hope” but does not plan on retiring there. Other than his cabin, Carr said, “There’s nothing to retire to because it’s a very rural area.”
He plans on using his cabin as a weekend retreat but would be willing to sell it if someone offered him “a fortune.” Carr said his 31/2 to four-year restoration project “was a lot of fun” and encourages anyone who’s interested in saving old log cabins to talk with him about it. He knows of more around to purchase and the proper way to restore them.

• For more information, call Joe Carr at the historical society at (812) 265-2335.

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