"Experience Pioneer Living With the Comforts of Home"
A Brief History of The Cabin at Sassafras Knoll
The Pennsylvania-German style log house, constructed on its original site in the mid 1820s by a settler named Johannes Shoemaker, originally stood several miles from here on the northwest corner of the intersection of Flickinger Hill and Mechanicsburg Road in Wayne Township, less than a mile west of Wooster High School.
Abandoned for a number of years and in increasingly vandalized condition, the house was purchased by the Lochers in 1996. Paul, past president of the Wayne County Historical Society and an expert in deconstructing and restoring pioneer-era buildings, spent a full year dismantling the house, tagging every piece for eventual reassembly.
During deconstruction, it was determined that the house had undergone a major remodeling in the late 1870s, when its overall appearance was updated to keep it in fashion with the Victorian tastes gaining in popularity across the state.
At that time, the original small-pane windows were replaced with larger pane sashes, the cooking fireplace and tightwinder staircase were both removed, much of the wide board flooring was replaced with the more stylish narrow flooring, and an existing first floor window was enlarged to become a door (the north front door), to mention just a few of the myriad of alterations.
After being in storage for nearly a year while site work was completed (and a 19th century barn the Lochers dismantled just outside the nearby village of Kidron was reconstructed immediately to the south to support the house rebuilding) actual reconstruction of the log house commenced in late 1997, and work progressed steadily through early fall of 2001.
During the restoration process, the original six-over-six pane double-hung windows were recreated and the sashes were fitted with hand-poured glass of the 1820's period. The cooking fireplace was restored to its original position using a mantel from an 1814 stone house located a couple of miles from the original site of the log house, and an appropriate winding staircase was obtained from another pioneer-era house that was being razed a couple of miles north of here.
Also, the general layout of the first floor of the house was opened up, eliminating some of the small rooms into which it had originally been divided.
Almost all of the wood in the house is from the original structure. However, part of the second story flooring was made from hickory which was cut on site here to replace the original oak flooring which -- although removed intact from the house -- was felt would render the living room and dining area too dark if reused.
Perhaps the most architecturally significant change that was made to the house occurred during the 1870's renovation, with the elimination of its widely overhanging roof, which has now been restored.
As a result of changing architectural fashion in Victorian times, these old-style -- and remarkably efficient -- roofs which protected the logs in an umbrella type configuration, passed into oblivion in Ohio when they became viewed as being too "peasant" or "old world" looking for the trendy Victorians.
Since most such roofs had seen about a half-century's use by the 1870s or 1880s and were worn out, they simply were not replaced as houses were renovated. Roof lines that were flush with the front, back and sides of the building replaced them. Consequently, this may be the only early log house in Ohio today that retains a broadly overhanging roof line.
While certain obvious concessions had to be made to accommodate bed and breakfast visitors, Paul and Anne have made every effort to retain or recreate the original ambience of early 19th century log house living for Sassafras Knoll guests, and the house is probably the premier restoration of an early Germanic log house in the State of Ohio.
We hope our guests will take time to note some of the interesting details of the house, including the massive carrying beams on both floors, each hewn with an axe from single trees; the unique "bird's beak" tenons on the ends of the floor joists where they are mortised into the carrying beams; the wide wall boards in the winding staircase area and wide plank flooring in the south portion of the house, original blacksmith-forged hardware on the doors, hand-planing marks on the woodwork and doors, the steeple-notched dovetails at the corners of the house which lock the logs of the structure together, and the decorative hand-wrought pins that secure the window sashes.
Also, note the paint scheme in the upstairs hallway and extending into the west bedroom. The Pennsylvania Germans traditionally painted the baseboards ("mopboards") a dark color, in contrast to the walls. The dark paint of the baseboards was continued into the next room.
Please note, too, a number of small signs concerning aspects of the original construction, which are placed around the house for your enjoyment and education.