On Saturday, October 21, the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County (PSABC) will host a lecture titled Cabins in the Forests. Robert
On Saturday, October 21, the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County (PSABC) will host a lecture titled Cabins in the Forests. Robert Griffin, president and principal architect of Griffin Architects, P.A., in Biltmore Village, will discuss the preservation of North Carolina’s historic log cabins. The program begins at 2 p.m. in the upper school auditorium at the Carolina Day School. There is no fee to attend but a suggested $10 donation will help support local preservation projects.
In the mid-1900s, many of the state’s ancient log cabins were disassembled and moved to Buncombe County in order to rescue them from decay. “It is lucky that the log cabin form lends itself to disassembly and relocation, a characteristic that has saved many of these early historic resources,” says Jack Thomson, executive director of PSABC. “Log cabin construction in Western North Carolina is the taproot of our domestic architecture. These vernacular structures are very rare and extremely important to our understanding of the lifestyles of early settlers.”
The story behind why and how these cabins were rescued varies. “One private cabin was relocated by the owner’s father who had a romantic affinity for cabins,” says lecturer Robert Griffin. “Another owner’s daughter found an old barn in eastern NC and brought it home piece by numbered piece and the family built it together. A third cabin was restored by descendants of Russian royalty.” The current purpose for these cabins varies, as well: some are tucked deep in the forest and used as guest cabins while others are used as commercial and nonprofit structures in more public view.
As a third-generation antiques dealer, Griffin was raised “with an appreciation for the contributions of those who came before us,” he says. He has earned a number of awards for his restoration work throughout the region. He was instrumental in the 1987 designation and protection of Biltmore Village as a local historic district and he is currently the primary restoration architect for All Souls Cathedral. Griffin has also served on the PSABC board of directors. “When I first moved to Asheville in 1975, there was a lot of restoration work needed,” he says. “It grieved many of us to see that so many wonderful examples of architecture were wasting away. WNC is rich with indigenous architecture at all levels, and if folks can see the beauty in the simplest of structures, we can all be the better for that common vision. I hope the audience will leave this program with a childlike appreciation for the romantic revival of what was once a necessity for our early ancestors.”
The Carolina Day School is located at 1345 Hendersonville Road in Asheville. For more information, visit psabc.org.