While biting late-fall winds blew around town last week, Aaron Hagood and his crew were safe from the elements, shielded by plastic sheets fixed overhead as they continued work on the relocated Pioneer Spring Cabin.
“About 70 percent done; we're right on schedule,” Hagood said. Barring a sudden, drastic change, he expects the cabin will be complete by Dec. 31 at its new location next to the National Frontier Trails Museum, 318 W. Pacific Ave., a few blocks south of the Square and across the street from the Bingham-Waggoner Mansion.
Hagood Construction and Old Fashion Cabins, with some help from Independence Parks, Recreation and Tourism employees, has been reconstructing the cabin that was at the corner of Noland and Truman roads since 1974. Workers started tearing down the pre-Civil War cabin Oct. 1 and had it down in a couple days.
They cataloged and washed the individual logs, determined which ones could still be used. Hagood has filled in the gaps with period-era logs from his own stash, creating what Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Eric Urfer says will function as an outdoor exhibit space.
The walls are up, and on this November day the workers were adding the final bits of “chinking” between the logs, similar to the mortar between bricks. Next will be the floor, which Hagood said will come from an 1849 German-style house near Hermann that he is slated to come down. The floor remains in good shape, and it will be set above ground, something Hagood said crews should have done in 1974 when they first moved the cabin from its original location near Noland Road and Walnut Street.
The roof will come after that, and finally the windows and doors, and Hagood said the chinking material will allow the cabin to stay cooler in the summer, like a basement.
When dismantled in October, the cabin was about 50 percent original material, analysts estimated, and Hagood said about 70 percent of the structure was salvageable to be reused – “About what I thought it would be.”
Normally, Hagood said, the old cabins and houses he deals with are made of oak and pine. The Pioneer Cabin is sycamore and dogwood and acts like a sponge, presenting a larger challenge at times.
Still, he said, the meticulous work has been worthwhile.
“We love what we do, or else we wouldn't do it,” he said. “It can be really hard work.”