A historic cabin in Ouachita Parish is virtually hidden away, almost completely abandoned and succumbing to nature.
Sharing a small rural clearing in the southern part of the parish with two neighboring 20th-century houses, the Rawls Cabin is the rarest example of a single-pen log house.
The cabin represents the continued importance of Southern Upland culture in the region and may be one of the oldest log structures in the parish.
Log buildings once dominated the western countryside of Ouachita Parish. When the Rawls Cabin was first listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 9, 1991, log buildings were relatively rare. Of the 142 rural buildings that were recorded in the survey of historic structures in the parish as being at least 50 years old, only 14 were constructed of logs.
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The two-room structure consists of a single log enclosure approximately 16 square feet and a smaller framed lean-to attached to the rear. A plank door connects the two spaces. A sloping roof is attached to the facade. The supports forming the foundation are cut in a rectangular shape and rest on stone and wooden pillars. The pen itself is constructed of round logs split down the center.
The small shed is covered on the outside with sawn boards. Architectural evidence suggests that the two halls were built at the same time. The low-pitched roof of the enclosure has a deep side overhang, clapboard gables, and an off-center plank door pierces the facade. Additional exterior doors are located on the east side of the enclosure and on the back wall of the shed. The house has retained its original wooden floor.
Despite moderate changes over the years since its construction, including the replacement of its original shingle roof with a corrugated iron roof, the cabin retains the architectural features that make it significant.
Built in 1883 by Abner Rawls, the cabin was purchased in 1911 by the McKeel family, some of whom occupied the house until 1976. The property is currently owned by Davis Bamburg, according to records from the Tax Assessor’s Office of the Ouachita Parish.
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Although log structures have been erected from the date of the first arrival of settlers from the southern highlands, none appear to have survived from the earliest period. In date of construction, the Rawls Cabin predates all other log buildings in the parish, most of which were built in the 1890s or after 1900.
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