San Felipe De Austin Historic Log Cabin Restoration.

April 9, 2018

 This past year, we were part of a great project restoring an old Texas Relic . The  log cabin we restored was estimated to be built around 1820. The logs were oak logs and the builder was of German decent. The whole San Felipe De Austin story can be looked up on a couple different websites. Here is a link to the T.H.C. website ( http://www.thc.texas.gov/historic-sites/san-felipe-de-austin-state-historic-site ). 

 

 The cabin itself was almost 50% deteriorated. It had been moved to another site in the 1960's and a small roadside museum was created from the cabin. Inside were old cabinets and other antique items. The roof was probably rebuilt several times, since its birth. We removed the roof but didn't keep any of it not being historic. The logs we were able to save, we labeled and sent to the University for freezing. The freezing was a requirement from the client in order to kill unwanted organisms and to prevent them from getting into museum. 

 

I was able to buy a cabin up in the south eastern corner of Missouri, along the trail of tears. We will call it the parts cabin. The parts cabin was used for a civil war union encampment. It was getting down to the end of its life cycle and the kids were selling the farm. So at least it was preserved in its new home. The original plan was to use machinery to disassemble the parts cabin. It turned out there was no access with machinery. So we ended up removing the cabin  with come-alongs and chains. Worked great. We were able to salvage about 2 times the linear ft of  logs that were estimated to be needed by the client. 

 

 

Once we got logs back to San Felipe site we were ready to start restoring the cabin. All of the base logs were bolted to the concrete. All of the logs are lag bolted together with 1/2" lags. We chose the best ax marks for high visibility logs. We found all kinds of old square nails in the old logs. Some of them were left and put in a visible location. A lot of the corner log dovetails had to be adjusted along with the the replacement logs. Its a good thing we got twice what was needed because we used almost everything. 

 

 All the roof members were hand hewn and built from raw cedar timbers. The roof design was a weighted pole style roof, appropriate for the time period. So we used planks and nailed them to look weighted by mock weighted poles. The cabin roof was also built with a shed porch. We used raw cedar posts. The chimney was framed from 2x material and covered with mud chinking

 

 Newer acrylic water based chink was originally planed by client but we went with mortar for strength. Wire was nailed in the joints on both sides.  The cabin chinking needed to look like mud. We also wanted the color or dye to be mixed in to concrete. We used a combination of dyes. It came out great and looked just like the mud from the area. We used hay in places to simulate the old style of fortifying the cabin chinking. The client opted not to stain anything in order to discern the old from the new in the exhibit. 

 It turned out great and we are so grateful to get to put our mark on this project. Thanks to all the people that made it possible. Here is a time lapse youtube video link with more pics and video        ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBaCW-C5p2s&t=3s ).