Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mea maxima culpa...or, the vinyl solution

Denis and the dogs visit Mr. Savard and his log house

Our house in the 1970's
 I have spent the summer with log houses, and have learned to love them, and the people who love them.

I have a confession to make.

I used to live in a log house.

When we bought our farmhouse near North Bay in 1985, it had been clad for many years, most recently in vinyl siding, which in some ways is a very good thing for log, as it is protected until a log house purist comes by to release it.

The house's contemporary nearby

now that was dumb

 Unfortunately, we were not log house purists. We loved the place, sure. We built a verandah along the front of the L-shaped house, so we could watch the world pass by from our little hill-top. We built an addition linking the old house to a new carriage house/garage.

We even installed a more secure steel front door with sidelight, which necessitated chain-sawing through the log exterior wall...on a windy day. I paid for this sacrilege by sweeping up sawdust for weeks. But we did not restore the house to the original log.

The willow saplings planted when the house was new.
 We acknowledged the home's log origins; it made a good story for dinner guests. We loved living there. I still hear the whine which would linger in the still air of a freezing winter night, long after the explosion of frost in the logs woke us from sound sleep. We enjoyed visiting the old fellow who lived down the valley in our home's contemporary...which was unimproved in any way. From Mr. Savard we learned that both places were built in the 1880's by members of the same family. Our house had even been the Bonfield post office at one time. the top of a windy hill. A reason to move south.
And then we moved.

We drove by the place this summer. Some improvements had been made. The massive stone exterior chimney had been boxed in after a fire. The pencil-sized red pines that I planted along the property line had grown to 25 feet or more. The place looks like a good home for someone. But the old log house is still keeping its secret,behind crisp white vinyl.

1 comment:

  1. I've enjoyed the last couple of blog entries on log houses. I suspect there are a great number of older buildings which are really log structures.....its just that they've been covered up for so long that no one knows the difference. The Cooper's Inn (c.1785, Shelburne, NS)is supposedly one such case:

    You have to admire the fact that some of these structures have been around a long time and still stand proudly....Scadding Cottage (1790's Toronto), Martin House(1773, New Brunswick)etc... This one was built in 1765 and probably would have survived had someone cared for it: