Time Is Running Out

Benjamin F. Hunter cabin 02-09-2016There’s quite a difference in the way the Benjamin F. Hunter Cabin looked February 9, 2016, and the way it looked when I photographed it in August 2014. Click on the photos to make them large enough to see how much the building has deteriorated in less than two years.

The cabin in August 2014

Benjamin Hunter Cabin 08-09-2014I did a post December 13, 2014, that explored some of the history of the reconstructed log cabin on the road to Old McKendree Chapel.

Has been treated with benign neglect

Benjamin F. Hunter cabin 02-09-2016The structure, which was built outside Sikeston in the 1880s and taken apart in the 1980s, was a preservation project undertaken by Southeast Missouri State University in the 1990s. It quickly became a house without a home, with the university proposing, then discarding a number of possible locations.

Gravity will take its toll

Benjamin F. Hunter cabin 02-09-2016The story I did in 2014 said Dr. Bonnie Stepenoff continued work on the cabin in the mid 1990s, including repairs on the roof, chinking and daubing the walls, placing a gate around the property, reglazing the windows, and conducting additional student research.

From the amount of light streaming through the gaps between the logs, I would say most of that chinking has fallen out. The roof has holes in it, and you can see some of the logs have fallen out just between 2014 and this week. Unless something is done fairly soon, gravity is going to take over and all that will be left will be a stack of rotting logs.

Of course, that’s the university’s approach to preservation: neglect a property until you can say that fixing it will cost more than tearing it down.

8 Replies to “Time Is Running Out”

  1. I am the recipient of the 2014 Arkansas Heritage Artist Award, for my work in Log Cabin design, construction, and Restoration. I am interested in this dogtrot cabin. Is it for sale or do you need help with it?? You can reach me through the above email.

  2. I agree that time is running out. The roof may collapse with a big snowfall or windstorm. As I mentioned in my comment to your 2014 post, the property and the 1853 vintage Hunter/Moore house is now owned by the McKendree Chapel Memorial Association. Unfortunately, the Association has been unsuccessful in raising funds for repair and restoration. The cost for a new roof alone is about $20,000, and the cost for the total project will be at least $100,000. The Association has funds to maintain the Chapel grounds proper, but not much else. Donations would be welcome!

    1. Steve, Thanks for reminding me of that comment. I had forgotten that the university had gotten shed of that project. The McKendree Chapel folks have done a good job of preserving the chapel and grounds, but I wonder how the Benjamin F. Hunter cabin falls under their core mission?

      Looking at it with my cynical eye, it looks like the university got rid of a log white elephant so they wouldn’t get blamed when it fell down.

  3. Maintenance of the Hunter/Moore house is consistent with the mission of the Chapel Memorial Association to the extent that the house is representative of the better rural homes built in the 1850s when Old McKendree was still in its heyday. If ever the repairs and restoration are completed, the place would complement the rest of the McKendree campus (now 15+ acres) by providing a window into the lives of the people who settled the area and became members of the church. Indeed the proximity to McKendree Chapel is why the site was chosen by the University as a 19th Century living history farm, before the plans fell thru, of course.

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