It’s been deconstructed, moved, stored and rebuilt with a few new logs and fixtures, but the oldest structure in Hall County is close to completion at its new home in Cherokee Bluffs Park.
Hall County construction specialists Chris Robinson and Larry West are close to finishing their reassembly of the Roberts Log Home, a 200-year-old structure that has a long history in the county.
And for the past few decades, the cabin has been the subject of a substantial preservation effort from the Hall County Historical Society and eventually the county government.
Now, after 12 years of storage and months of reconstruction, the cabin is about a month away from being completed.
Doug Smith Jr., a member of the HCHS, is looking forward to the November conclusion of the reassembly. He’s a descendant of some early inhabitants of the home, and he’s also inherited preservation work from his father, Douglas E. Smith, and great-uncle Martin H. Smith, who both worked to keep the cabin alive in the county.
Smith Jr. visits the project near 5867 Blackjack Road in South Hall once a month.
“It’s totally amazing,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a great asset to the county. We had looked at some of the rings on the logs, and ... we think the trees were cut down somewhere around 1810.”
Judging by the hundreds of rings on the logs themselves, Smith reached a fascinating conclusion.
“These trees were growing before Columbus discovered America,” he told The Times on Monday.
Smith’s ancestors, the Smith and Roberts families, lived in the home in the 1800s.
He’s watched as Robinson and West have put the ancient structure back together.
The logs had been sitting in a trailer for a dozen years, Robinson said, but were catalogued and preserved while they were stored.
Ken Cochran, a former president of the HCHS, catalogued the logs. In the early 2000s, he was part of the work to save the cabin and find a new location for it. Now, he’s pleased to have played a role.
“I think this is the greatest thing,” he said. “The problem is Americans destroy a lot of history. They never rebuild it.”
The Roberts Log Cabin is one bit of history that’s being rebuilt — and it’s been a tough job.
Robinson and West had access to a crane to restore the two-story structure and its enormous logs, the largest of which were 24 feet long, 12 inches wide and almost half a ton. Robinson said he “couldn’t even fathom how the old-timers were able to get those logs in place” with only manual tools.
Now it’s almost finished being built again. Robinson said they have the fireplace and chimney to finish, as well as a process called “chinking,” which calls for the logs to be coated in a concrete mixture to preserve them. Once that’s done, the home will be relatively maintenance-free while keeping its historic, authentic appearance.
“It’s just amazing to see and to be part of history,” Robinson said. “… You dream of building (a log cabin) in the woods, and all of a sudden you’re two stories up in the air running a chain saw and cutting dovetails.”
Dovetails are a type of joint used to secure logs to one another without hardware.
It’s an exciting time for all who were involved in the project, and Smith said he hopes others will share in that excitement when the cabin is finished and opened.
“It’s just a great thing for us to have in the county,” he said. “I know there are going to be tons of teachers and school groups that are going to want to visit this thing when they get it completed.”