Monday, February 14, 2011

The Recently Renovated mid-18th Century Log House at Sesquicentennial State Park, South Carolina

cabin front

Sesquicentennial State Park is right across the road from our house. A five-minute drive. A great resource to have in the neighborhood. Its proximity to the CarolinaConsidered Project Home Base is one reason “Sesqui” appears so often in these posts.

bridgeBut there’s more to Sesqui’s appeal than geographic proximity. It really is a remarkable Park. Around 1,400 acres of beautifully maintained nature, including its own lake, ideal for ElderKayaking, smack dab in the middle of a near-urban environment.

And if that isn’t enough, Sesqui also hosts what’s thought to be the oldest building in Richland County. The mid-18th century log structure you see above. I’ve been admiring this 30’ by 20’ two-story log house for twenty-some years during visits to the Park. And was especially pleased last year to see major renovations begin.

Holder Brothers Timber Frames of Monroe, Georgia, by the way, played a key role in that renovation. Be sure to visit their website with a click here. They are one of the few firms in the United States with the skills necessary to conduct such projects. Using historic tools and procedures. I was able to watch them at work on several occasions. They’ve included a page on the Sesqui log house restoration on their website. Click here for that.

Here’s a short video I published back in November toward the end of the renovation process.

I don’t recall where the “1961” move to Sesqui date came from, but it’s wrong. According to more accurate sources, State Park Service Historian Janson Cox supervised disassembly of the log house in 1969, and its renovation and reassembly on the current site in 1970. What a job! Read more about it on the interpretive plaque beside the log house at Sesqui.

I telephoned Jansen Cox’s Park Service successor, Historic Sites Coordinator, Al Hester, in search of more information. During that conversation, Mr. Hester kindly agreed to a CarolinaConsidered interview. And even suggested we do it at the cabin itself.

Al Hester 01Click here to access the interview with Mr. Hester. It’s full of information – accurate this time – about the history of this important building. Including several videos. Trained as a public historian, Mr. Hester knows his business! And, as important, he’s able to convey it to those of us with limited backgrounds.

Here’s another video in which Mr. Hester points out important features of the log house, first on the outside, and then inside.

gambrell01aFollowing the interview with Mr. Hester, I persuaded Sesqui Park Manager Daniel Gambrell to describe the log house restoration process that he supervised from beginning to end. Click here to access his interview, which also includes a number of photos and short videos.

So, have a look here at the photos and videos, listen to the explanations of on-the-scene experts. Then, arrange a visit to the log house, and to the rest of what Sesquicentennial State Park has to offer. You won’t be disappointed.

Thanks again to Historic Sites Coordinator, Mr. Al Hester, and to Sesqui Park Manager, Mr. Daniel Gambrell, for generous contributions of time and expertise to the CarolinaConsidered Project.

Click here to return to the CarolinaConsidered Project website.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Park Manager Daniel Gambrell Describes the Renovation and Preservation of Sesqui State Park’s mid-18th Century Log House

On December 15th, 2010, South Carolina Park Service Historic Sites Coordinator, Mr. Al Hester, explained the history of Sesqui’s mid-18th century log house, and how it got to its current site on the Sesqui Park grounds. Click here if you missed that interesting interview.


[Click the photos for a larger view, and double-click the videos to open them as full-screen displays.]

The following day, December 16th, Sesqui Park Manager Daniel Gambrell agreed to talk with us about the log house’s more recent history. Especially the recently completed major renovation.

Mr. Gambrell is well acquainted with that renovation, since he was Sesqui’s Manager when it was done. Indeed, he wrote the grant proposals to the Richland County Conservation Commission to obtain funding for the project. Further, he and his Park staff devoted hundreds of person-hours to the process. Doing everything from site clean-up, to re-chinking logs, to removing unnecessary utilities ducting beneath the building.

The log house was moved to Sesqui in 1969-1970. Long before Mr. Gambrell was Manager. But here he describes that painstaking process. And how the Park Service decided a few years ago to go forward with the recent major renovation.

Mr. Gambrell enthusiastically described just how the renovation was done. No wonder! I often saw him at the site working with the crews to get this remarkable building in shape.

renov cabin 01He gave much of the credit for the success of this renovation to Holder Brothers Timberframers of Monroe, Georgia. One of the very few firms in the United States with the expertise necessary to carry out such a project. And to the Park Service Central Maintenance crew. The latter, I believe, was responsible for adding the front and back porches on the structure.

latch and doorEven Sesqui State Park volunteers contributed to the renovation project. In fact, the blacksmithing necessary to create period-accurate door latches and hinges was done by one of the campground hosts.

In conclusion, I asked Mr. Gambrell how Sesqui intends to use the building now that it has been renovated. He said the Park Service hopes to open it to the public in the near future. Once interpretive signs [they are very expensive, by the way!] are available, and arrangements can be made for security.

Thanks again to Park Manager Daniel Gambrell for taking the time to talk with us about this remarkable mid-18th century log house. When your travels bring you to, or near, Sesqui just outside Columbia, South Carolina, be sure to stop by.

Click here to return to the Sesqui Log House page.

Click here to return to the CarolinaConsidered Project website.