Ginny Curry and her husband, Bill, antique dealers who lived on 10 acres of farmland and gardens in Lancaster, Ohio, had for years scoured the eastern U.S. for pioneer cabins they could bring home and restore to their "primitive wonderland." But Bill had a very special cabin in mind for Ginny.
Bill and Ginny found the cabin to end all cabins—a circa 1810 pioneer settler’s homestead in Mineral Wells, West Virginia. It was to be Bill's gift to Ginny, her "Christmas cabin" as Bill called it.
The cabin was unusual in that it had many of its original features: chimney, stone fireplace, stairs, flooring and beams. Bill painstakingly disassembled the cabin, numbered the logs and transported the cabin to Ohio.
"We’d dreamed of filling it with eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American country furnishings," Ginny said. "Early paintings, stepback and jelly cupboards, dry sinks, a spinning wheel and other antiques we’d collected. We couldn’t wait for the day when we could share the fruits of our labors with friends at our annual Christmas gathering."
Bill had intended to reassemble and restore the cabin little by little, attaching it to the property's main house. But after setting up the logs and building a walk-in fireplace like the early log cabins had, he was diagnosed with leukemia.
Bill bravely pushed through to finish the cabin's foundation and decking, but he died on the couple's 36th wedding anniversary, just three months after his diagnosis.
Soon thereafter, two friends, Butch and Keith, came to visit Ginny and promised to complete the cabin just as Bill had envisioned it. They worked faithfully every other weekend, carefully following Bill's plans.
But when the time came to build the dogtrot—a walkway connecting the cabin to the main house—they realized they would need much more old wood than they had on hand. New wood just wouldn't have the right look.
It was decided that weathered barn siding would fit the bill, but when Ginny called around to see if anyone in the region had an old barn they were willing to raze for the wood, she didn't find anyone who was interested.
One night in a dream, Ginny heard Bill's voice speaking a bit sternly to her (which he didn't usually do): "Use the fence, Ginny. You’re not paying attention: Use the fence!"
Ginny quickly remembered the fence Bill had built around the couple's pasture; it was made of boards that were now bleached gray from the weather. Ginny, Butch and Keith used those boards to complete the dogtrot. Bill's promise had been fulfilled.
The next Christmas, Ginny held a holiday open house, sharing her dream cabin with friends and loved ones, all of whom had known and loved Bill, too.
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