As a young kid from West Virginia, my friends and I would build crude shelters made from existing trees, fallen branches or trees, and any other materials we could get our hands on. We would hand split poplar trees to lay across our structure and form roof sheeting, and we would then cover it with whatever debris happened to be laying around. Smaller hand split pieces would cover the sides. We built quite a few of these, and now, each time I start a new project, I can’t help but reflect back on those times – my early “log home” building days.
Today, with each project, I get to lay hands on logs that are somewhere in the range of 400-years-old or more. The rings found within logs tell its age, and some of the logs we have worked with have boasted as many as 350 rings with many left to count. (Some of the rings were too close to each other to see clearly.) One cabin dated back to pre-civil war times making it 150 years old; however, the tree actually started growing 350 years before that making it’s entire existence at least 500 years. Our goal is to preserve and protect the materials of these cabins to last at least another 150 years.
Trees like these are not available today. The logs our early countrymen used for cabin making were really no bigger than trees we find in forests today. The real major difference is the early trees grew under “giants” – much larger trees that caused the “average” size tree to struggle upwards for sunlight causing a much slower growth and resulting in a much denser wood. The dense wood was so hard that even insect invasion made for a very slow assault unlike today’s building materials that are more susceptible to creepy, crawling invaders.
At Country Mountain Homes, LLC., we focus on utilizing traditional, “old-world” building skills to restore and preserve 19th century, hand-hewn, antique structures. We integrate other artistic skills, such as stone masonry, blacksmithing, timber framing, post and beam, and standing seam roofs, into our restoration process.
When we build, our primary focus is to repair and preserve using materials in the exact location within the original cabin. We “recycle” everything we can from the original cabin; however if materials are damaged beyond repair, we try to replace or repair with materials from the same era.
Secondly, our intention upon completion is to have a cabin that looks natural in its setting – like it had always been there, as if the owners had found this cabin and replaced nothing more than its windows and roof.
However, inside our cabins one can step through handmade chestnut doors hung with hand-forged strap hinges and hardware and enter the beautiful warm atmosphere of rustic hand-hewn logs accompanied by modern conveniences. Some of our completed interior spaces include custom kitchen cabinets with granite countertops, stainless steel and copper appliances, beautiful balconies, stone fireplaces, and hardwood floors. Our clients’ visitors see a charming, old cabin on the outside, but once inside, they are greeted by modern, rustic elegance.
Country Mountain Homes takes great pride not only in the building and preservation of antique structures for future generations but also in knowing our work reflects the same craft practiced over 100 years ago. We hold dearly our responsibility to carry on this age-old tradition.