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Log cabin discovery in Lehigh Valley

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From a distance, or even upon closer inspection, the blue-gray wooden plank building with a stone foundation does not appear historically significant.

It served around four decades as Northampton County’s oldest polling place, until authorities closed it to voters after the November 1991 election after a man nearly fell through a sagging plank.

But the history of the structure goes back further than that.

Built about 10 years before the Revolutionary War, the Plainfield Township site was a log schoolhouse, records show.

Susan Hahn lived nearby for about 60 years in a stone house. She and her husband, William Hahn, eventually purchased the house, log house, and other buildings in 1971 from what is now St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. Before her death, her husband was the long-time caretaker of the church and graveyard across Delabole Road, whose headstones date from the 18th century. The site is near the Sullivan Trail (Highway 115).

“It’s pretty bad in there,” Hahn acknowledged of the log house, “because it’s my tote. It’s full of boxes, window air conditioners.

The log house contains other collectibles and artifacts, such as old newspapers and an original blackboard. It also features chestnut floors and woodwork.

On an upper floor, evidence of the original logs can be seen amid some filler material and newer electrical wiring.

“I would love to see it restored to a log cabin, but I don’t know,” said Hahn, sitting for an interview in her 19th-century stone home, which she and her husband have restored. “Years ago, my dream was always to have it restored, but life happens, and you just keep going.”

Her husband backed out of the renovations, she said, in part because when workers installed lath strips over the logs to apply the weatherboarding, they cut off portions of the logs to ensure that the tapes would go straight on, she said.

“I think my husband was hesitant because he thought we wouldn’t be happy with the end result,” said Hahn, 79, who retired in 2014 from the Northampton County Department of Social Services. For years, she was president of the annual Plainfield Farmers’ Fair.

The Lehigh Valley is dotted with log homes, with a self-guided tour of nearly two dozen “remaining and charming” 18th- and 19th-century log buildings promoted online by Discover Lehigh Valley.

Even with the addition of lath strips and weatherboards that cover the structure, Hahn’s log home has stood the test of time.

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“A lot of times these historic buildings are in disrepair or another, and people come together and say, ‘This is something worth saving,'” said Andrew Glovas, Northampton’s chief operating officer. County Historical & Genealogical Society.

Examples of such efforts can be seen throughout Northampton County, he said, including the 1753 Bachmann Publick House in Easton, the Forks Township Community Park Log Cabin and Lutz- Franklin of Lower Saucon Township.

One person told Hahn that the log house could have been built in the 1730s; a century-old book Hahn showed during the interview places the beginning of the building before 1766. In that year, according to the book, the Reverend Frederick L. Henop reported 32 students enrolled in the Plainfield Church parochial school. The book also noted that a large hall and foyer separated the log house from an apartment where the manager lived.

People Hahn spoke to years ago, who grew up in the 19th century, told him they only remembered the log house as being covered in siding.

“It’s a shame there’s no one around, but we’re 200 years behind,” Hahn said.

Morning Call reporter Anthony Salamone can be reached at [email protected]

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