MOSES HUDGIN LOG HOUSE PRESENTATION BY EDWIN ROWSE
AT OPEN HOUSE SEPTEMBER 19, 2020
VISION FOR THE HOUSE
The South Shore Joint Initiative’s vision is to conserve the Moses Hudgin log house, which sits on the former Hudgin farm property, as a historic building and to renovate it as a field centre for the Nature Conservancy of Canada and local naturalists, who are working to protect the Important Bird Area and the biodiversity of the South Shore. To this end the SSJI has formed the Moses Hudgin Log House Restoration Committee charged with the day-to-day operation of the house, and its protection and long-term maintenance.
Built by Moses Hudgin in c.1865, the log house was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act in 2011. In keeping with the reasons for its designation, the intent is to preserve and celebrate the house for its architectural value, its historical associations with the Hudgin family, and its contextual value as the sole surviving representative of the many farmsteads that once existed in the Ostrander Point area.
3 PHASES OF WORK
The repair and renovation of the log house is planned in three phases. Phase One is to stabilize and strengthen the existing log structure, and we thank the County of Prince Edward for a $5,000 heritage grant to support this work. Phase Two is to renovate the exterior envelope and the ground floor rooms as the field centre. Phase Three, with a longer time frame, is to make the second floor useful.
NEW INFORMATION ARISING
As the committee plans Phase One, new information continues to emerge regarding the history of the house and its long association with the Hudgin family. Old family memories and stories are rekindled, old historic family photographs are found, often with a glimpse of the house in the background, and new research into the agricultural census of 1865 tells us what Moses Hudgin was growing on the farm.
To the best of my knowledge, the Moses Hudgin log house is the sole surviving 19th-century dwelling in the Ostrander Point area. The Tremaine Map of 1863 shows many farmsteads with their outbuildings and it must have been a busy local community.
At that time, the house had an east wing with a large kitchen and additional bedroom, making an “L”-shaped building, with an inside corner where the front door and the kitchen door were located. An early photo shows a garden gate at the property line and we can imagine a pathway leading to the porch and front door. It was not a big house, but it housed a big Victorian family who slept many to a bedroom. One small drive shed also survives, just north of the house, and the stone foundation walls of a large barn are still visible to the east.
LOG HOUSE CONSTRUCTION
We call the building a log house rather than a cabin, because it has a second story.
It is notable that most of the logs are eastern white cedar, which is unusual but makes the construction very durable, as we know from cedar rail fences. The construction tells us that most of the materials were sourced on the farm, from the stone foundations to the log roof rafters and the squared logs of the walls that were likely fashioned from trees growing close to the site.
Moses and his family would have built the basic structure as best they knew how, but they did not attempt dovetail corner joints, which lock the logs together but are very difficult to make. The simple lap joints they used have let the logs move over time and 155 years later that is the main structural issue we need to deal with.
An early photo shows cut cedar shingles on the roof and window sashes with rounded heads and 2-over-2 pane divisions, which would have been very fashionable in the 1860s.
There were three brick chimneys to serve three wood stoves. The chimneys were built with architectural elegance in mind; each chimney consisted of a plinth, shaft and decorated top in the style special to South Marysburgh. Only one of the three chimneys survives today.
The exterior of the house was originally clad in painted horizontal wood siding to protect the logs, but a late nineteenth-century photograph shows that the siding had already been lost by then. The siding would have kept the house warm and more airtight in winter.
Thus, for a very long time, the house has depended on lime mortar chinking between the logs, on the interior and exterior, to keep the weather out. As you can see, there are gaps in the chinking, but the gaps are not harming the house as they allow plenty of air to move through to keep the building fabric dry and healthy. The long exposure of the logs to the weather is very evident, but they remain structurally sound.
OCCUPIED ONLY BY THE HUDGIN FAMILY
The Hudgin family occupied the house for over a century, until 1967, when they sold the property to the Rose family, who planned to use it for a summer music camp. That never happened and so the house has stood vacant for over 50 years. Soon after the property was designated in 2011, a new metal roof was installed by the Roses, saving the logs from serious decay.
The interior of the ground floor of the house has been much altered, and the partition walls of the original parlour, dining room and tiny writing room no longer exist. The walls of the second-floor bedrooms are all in place. Both the walls and ceilings of the bedrooms are clad in original beaded board. Glen Hudgin, who spent time at the house with his grandparents in the 1960s, remembers sleeping as many as four to the small bedrooms, which were heated by wood stoves.
HOUSE OPENED FOR VIEWING
We have opened the front door so that you can get a sense of the interior of the ground floor. As you look in, the parlour would have been on the left, with the dining room defined by a partition running right across the width of the house, just to the right of the front door. The rooms are just 7’6” high, but on the second floor they are dramatically taller, filling most of the roof space with only a tiny attic above.
The debris on the ground floor includes some original wood paneled doors, a salvaged window sash that will allow us to accurately restore the original windows, a 1930s ice chest and cooking stove, and some very good quality lumber that will be useful for the repairs. A few decayed areas of floorboard make it too risky to let anyone walk around inside at present.
PLAN FOR HOUSE AND INTERPRETATION
The plan for the house is to repair the existing log structure and to renovate the ground floor for three-season use, as a meeting room and research centre for field naturalists. We imagine a large room with information panels and exhibits, where visitors will be able to learn about the life and history of the house, the Hudgin family, and the work of the naturalists.
In the longer term, there may be access to the second floor for storage, interpretation, or even overnight accommodation. Currently there are no plans to rebuild the east wing, which was demolished after 1967, but its exterior walls and rooms will be marked in stones on the ground and explained by exterior interpretation panels. The missing west brick chimney will be rebuilt to restore the symmetry of the house.
PLEASE ASK QUESTIONS, HELP WITH PLANNING INTERPRETATION
Your questions and comments will help us plan a lively interpretation of the house and of the Hudgin family's life, so that in the not too distant future the house will again be a well-recognized presence in the landscape, a hive of activity, and a commemoration of the Ostrander Point community that once lived and thrived in this beautiful, ecologically rich but agriculturally demanding landscape.
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