Crews replace rotting logs at Henry Cooper Log Cabin Museum

Ballard Smith of Wiley Log Homes in action at the repairs this week at the Henry Cooper Log Cabin in City Park. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

PARKERSBURG — Work is underway at the Henry Cooper Log Cabin Museum in City Park to replace rotting logs and stabilize the 19th century structure.

A crew with Wiley Log Homes of Botetourt County, Va., have been onsite since last week removing rotting logs, replacing them with new ones and doing other repairs.

Originally built along Elizabeth Pike in Mineral Wells in 1804 and moved to City Park in 1910, the cabin has suffered water damage causing logs to deteriorate, local officials said. The cabin is the oldest documented structure in the county.

“They are replacing some of the deteriorating logs with new ones,” said City Engineer Adam Stout.

Some logs are being replaced while others are being repaired through epoxy consolidation.

Ronnie Wiley of Wiley Log Homes cuts a piece of wood that will be used in the repair of at the Henry Cooper Log Cabin in City Park. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

The hope is to have all of the logs that need replaced done by the end of this week or early next week, Stout said. They will have to wait for temperatures to reach and stay in the 50s and some of the mortar will be replaced, he added.

The city of Parkersburg was able to secure the new white pine logs from a farm near St. Marys, said Paul Hoblitzell, president of the Oil, Gas and Industrial Historical Association Inc. and great-grandson of Wealthy Virginia Cooper, who was born in the cabin.

“They are replacing all of the logs on the west end,” Hoblitzell said. “We had a lot of rot in them and some bad corners.

“We will have a little bit of work done to the chimney.”

Some of the logs around eye level in the corner of the cabin were rotten and deteriorating.

A crew with Wiley Log Homes repairing and restoring the Henry Cooper Log Cabin at City Park in Parkersburg this week. Rotted logs are being removed and replaced, among other repairs to the cabin. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

“For structural safety and longevity they needed to be replaced,” Hoblitzell said.

The current project is being funded, in part, by a grant from the West Virginia Department of Culture and History for $72,000 and requires a 50 percent local match, $36,000 from the city, said Finance Director Eric Jiles.

Jiles said the bid came in at $110,000 which was higher than the amount of the grant.

“The city is covering that part of it,” he said. “Of the $110,000 for the project, the grant covers around $36,000 and the city will cover the rest at $76,000.”

Hoblitzell said there are other logs around the cabin that will need to eventually be replaced. A new roof will also need to be put on the building at some point.

The work being done now will allow the cabin to be reopened for tours and other events.

Contractor Ronnie Wiley said they have taken out a number of different types of logs that were decaying, including poplar, white oak and pine. Another challenge in the repair work is bringing together of the new wood and the old wood still in the cabin and getting everything to work together, he said.

Each of the new logs weighs around 300-400 pounds and they secured a lifter locally to lift and put the logs in place, Wiley said.

“It is getting there,” he said.

Hoblitzell has been impressed with the work so far.

“The contractor seems to know what he is doing,” he said. “He is really making some progress.”

Stout said they went out to bid on the project three times before finding a contractor who could do the work.

“It was a little bit delayed for a start date,” Stout said. “There just aren’t a lot of people who specialize in historic log home restoration.”

Contact Brett Dunlap at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com


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