NEGAUNEE - In the fall of 2009 a hand-hewn log cabin was discovered off of Hungerford Avenue that preserved a piece of the early pioneer history of Negaunee.
The cabin is now being carefully reassembled in the new Jackson Park area near the Negaunee Senior Center.
A joint project between the city, the Negaunee Area Historical Society and the Negaunee Lions Club, the cabin will be restored to give visitors an glimpse of what life in Negaunee was like during the late 1800s.
A project being spearheaded by the Negaunee Lions Club, Negaunee Historical Society and the city of Negaunee is aimed at preserving a little piece of Negaunee history. The old Samuel Collins log cabin from the late 1800s is being reconstructed in Old Towne, with the walls nearly up as of midday Saturday, shown above. At left is a sign at the site explaining a little about the project. (Journal photos by Matt Keiser)
"There's a strong possibility this cabin was originally built in Old Towne," said Dave Dompierre, one of the Lions Club members working to reconstruct the cabin. "Putting it back in Old Towne seemed like the appropriate thing to do. And it compliments the (Iron Ore) Heritage Trail."
Believed to have been built by Samuel Collins, one of Negaunee's early residents, the cabin was relocated from its original home to the lot off of Hungerford Avenue in 1913, where over the years it was covered with three different layers of siding, hiding the logs that made up the walls.
Collins arrived in Negaunee to work at the Jackson Mine and eventually opened the first meat market in the area and became the owner of several pieces of property within the city.
When it was discovered in 2009, the cabin, which was being used as a rental unit, was being demolished. Volunteers stepped in to carefully mark each of the logs and dismantle the structure piece by piece, putting it into storage to be rebuilt once a permanent home for it could be found.
Negaunee Lions members, who are providing the volunteer labor for the project, are putting the logs back together.
To prepare the site, a layer of sand had to be put down to support a concrete slab and foundation. Thursday, volunteers began placing the logs, putting each back in its correct place. Once the walls are in place, the cabin will be fitted with windows, a door and roof.
"We're trying to be as authentic as we can," Dompierre said.
That goes down to reinstalling the original chinking between the logs - mostly old fabric, some with buttons still attached that was saved when the cabin was taken apart.
"If we can get the logs in place, the roof on before snowfall, that would be ideal," Dompierre said.
Once finished, the cabin will be furnished in the late 1800s style, so visitors can look inside the windows to get a glimpse of early Negaunee life. The cabin itself will not be open to visitors due to code restrictions, Dompierre said.
The project is being financed through donations, with large donations coming from descendants of Samuel Collins - Dan and Fae Collins of Negaunee and Jonelle Collins, in memory of her husband George, have given money to the project, as well as large donations from Dr. Michael and Helen Grossman and the Negaunee Community Foundation.
However, more donations are needed to ensure the project is completed. Those who wish to help can send donations to the Negaunee Historical Society at P.O. Box 221, Negaunee, MI 49866.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.