Potential ways to preserve log cabin are explored

Though the bark crumbled in his hands, structural engineer Rick Ortega of Hillier Architecture still expressed optimism for the preservation of the log cabin.

On the very day the cabin was slated for demolition, Ortega was performing a pro-bono consultation for Ted Pollard, the president of the Radnor Historical Society, and Charles Kline and Beverlee Barnes, members of the Radnor Conservancy.

Carl Altomare, executive director of plant operations, speculated that every log would need to be replaced, the mold counts would be too high and the amount of hazardous materials in the environment was detrimental, but Ortega disagreed.

“We’re making ourselves unhealthy by obsessing over these things,” he said.

He agreed that much work would have to be done, including the replacement of floor and roof framing and the addition of many new logs. Even with the obvious damages that were found, Ortega gave several alternatives for the conservation of the cabin’s historical value.

Since Ortega said the foundation was in pretty good shape, the conservancy members suggested using the cabin in its current form with modifications. An analysis done by an entomologist had incited the first plan for demolition, but Ortega said the damage attributed to boring beetles had actually come in with the wood, and infestation was unlikely at this point.

During the inspection, biology professor Dr. David Unander passed by and suggested turning the main living area into a gazebo with open space to preserve the structure and to maintain original materials. The usable logs could be fashioned into a similar but open framework.

Other suggestions by Ortega were to disassemble the cabin, analyze the wood and move it or use the salvaged material for re-sawn lumber in a new endeavor of historical preservation of the cabin.

Kline, Barnes and Pollard are in the process of hiring an entomologist and a log cabin structural analyst to perform a cost-benefit analysis.

The National Trust for Historical Preservation has donated $2,000 to aid in the payment of specialists. The conservancy will continue to look for money to aid in preservation as they move on in the next step of in-depth analysis.

According to Ortega, all log cabins are built to bear a load way over the capacity necessary. This is what is keeping the building standing. The members of the Radnor Conservancy hope that support of the project will be held in the same way, standing with more than enough strength to carry the load.

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