The Cabin

The Botts family purchased this 200 + year old cabin in 1982, from Donald Teague in Chatham County. It was sitting in the middle of a cow pasture inside an electric fence. A second cabin, which is now the kitchen, was purchased from a site near Hillsboro and is older than the Chatham County cabin. These cabins were purchased before having property to move them onto…. But the dream plan had begun.

Dewey devised a plan to find the piece of property to fit the need. He put together a test that he, Dottie and Jason took to determine just what this property would look like. Then he ran an ad in The News and Observer describing what the family wanted. He got 3 calls, two from realtors and one from Mr. H. L Johnson who owned the first few acres the cabin sits on today.

With property purchased, it was time to move the Chatham County cabin. Foundation footings were poured and concrete blocks were laid to support the cabin. Then the logs were numbered before they were taken down and then reassembled on site like Lincoln logs. The chimney was moved in 2 dump truck loads and was rebuilt by 2 different crews over a year and a half period of time. A slight difference can be seen in the stone-laying techniques by the observant eye.

The second cabin was then connected to the side of the first cabin to create space for a kitchen. About this time Dewey found a 150-year-old house near Raynour (on Hwy 39, between Bunn and Louisburg) that the owner wanted taken down. Materials were needed to complete the finishing work on the cabin so he bought the house and for the next year many hours, with his teenage son and friends, were spent tearing down this house. These “new” old materials were used for flooring, walls, added bathroom and back porch. Then the right windows and doors were found to fit the spaces. The floor joists in the Chatham County cabin are original and are 7 full logs.

The entire cabin took 3 years to complete. Dewey was working full time in an 8 to 5 job. He juggled his time to be on site for ALL the building of The Cabin. There were too many questions to be answered and too many materials to be located for each project; he had to be there. Reconstruction is a “decision making work in progress”. This process took place before we had Google, before we had a computer! Finding someone who knew how to chink these old logs was like finding a needle in a haystack. One tip would lead to another call to another state until he was finally able to come up with a “recipe” that would work for our needs.

Several friends of the family who felt this was a ‘one and only chance’ to “chink” participated in this new activity. Getting it right the first time was very important but sharing the experience with friends was equally important, not to mention HUGELY appreciated. Their initials engraved in the walls will be a lasting memory.

The front porch flooring is cypress that was milled in the town of Wilson’s Mills. The stone underpinning came from chimneys collected from the Raynour house and was put into place by Dewey with his 2 year-old-son playing around him.

There were several people who helped in the work on The Cabin but the one who was both carpenter and mentor to working with an old structure was Bill Brantley. He was one point from being ‘legally blind’ and worked by the light of a 200 -watt bulb (which he brought with him). He drove to the site, at first light, from Brantleytown Road and had his sawhorse and light set up and ready when Dewey joined him from Raleigh. He was a country carpenter/craftsman. When he picked up a board you knew he could solve any problem in front of him. Memories of Bill will always be a part of The Cabin’s history.

The Barn House

The BarnHouse story began by moving an old tobacco barn, from a location 1 ½ miles away, onto its’ present site. The tobacco barn was scheduled for destruction when Dewey Botts was given the go ahead to either tear it down or have it moved. After taking the roof off the barn and shoring-up the walls, Henry Bunn was hired to move the barn. Which he did move it down Cheves Road, then turned right on Howard Tant Road and then up our 675 driveway.

The foundation was dug before the barn was moved in and concrete blocks were laid after, then the mover came later to lower the barn onto its’ new foundation….. the rest of the foundation was laid for the extension (kitchen, bathrooms, mudroom and log bedroom….which was added later).

Joe and Richard Gower, builders from Knightdale, with the help of “ground supervision” (Dewey and Dottie), risked life and limb to frame a new gabled roof. They also framed the shed roof section (kitchen and bathrooms), and put in flooring, the beautiful 12” boards added to the original ‘barn/space’ upstairs and down, creating rooms. And along with help from two more Gower brothers, they roofed the house with tin. With early morning arrivals, usually before 7 a.m., they kept Dewey RUNNING to keep them in supplies as they not only moved at workhorse speed but also kept us entertained with a dry sense of humor. Their ability to solve problems matched their skill to build a house.

William Gower, another brother and a “builder/artist” with wood, put the bead board in the upstairs bedroom of the tobacco barn. He individually designed and cut the vents for each of the gables and helped Dewey “new” notch each of the selected logs, taken from 3 log structures, to build the log bedroom.

Tin from the roof of one of the 15 structures collected by Dewey for supplies, was used in the upper wall above the logs. {Other tin roofs were used in the kitchen ceiling and on the exterior of the house.} The ceiling boards in the log bedroom are cedar, found at Habitat, cut and nailed into place by William and Dewey, from high-hanging scaffolding. The problem with the holes left by the knots in this wood was solved with Dewey putting tar paper on the back of each hole….easy solution to the problem…..

The progress on The BarnHouse was interrupted by the purchase of a foreclosed on house that joined the property. The house we now call The Lodge had an immediate need to be secured. Having a leaky roof, this new purchase was, overall, in a terminal state of decline. So for a 12-month period, The BarnHouse was put on hold and The Lodge was “saved”.

Randy Gower, another brother, came to work on the roof at The Lodge and stayed to see it finished. After this long, but rewarding year, he moved over to help us finish The BarnHouse. None of these brother’s, who had built many new houses, had ever worked on renovating an “old” structure with used materials. These were “true” cut measurements and it took extra time and a creative eye to put “the pieces” together.

Randy was up for the task. With Dewey’s eye to detail and our daily planning sessions, the work progressed with a meticulous desire to create a structure that would make the best use of the treasure-trove of materials we had collected. The “new” work began.

For the next year + .. Work continued on the BarnHouse.

Tobacco-Barn Bedroom ….

This room was a 5 tier tobacco barn. It was divided into “living/dining” space with an upstairs bedroom and a new gabled roof. The walls are the original walls to the barn and therefore two of them are not insulated. They are layered with original tarpaper and original tin exterior wall.

Cabinets in this room are built of old church pews from a church built in the latter 1800’s.

The church is located on Cheves Road… The wood from the old pews was saved by Mr. Satterwhite, who called Dewey, thinking he just might have a use for them in this building venture. Dewey hand cleaned each board and he and Randy Gower CAREFULLY measured each board before it was cut. Some of these boards were also used to build 3 tables that are now in the BarnHouse and on its’ porch.

Doorways were cut for 4’ double-door openings. French doors were salvaged and Front doors were purchased in Durham, NC.

Tier Poles were used to “dress” the doorways to the kitchen and bathroom. They were also used as posts in the stairwell, along with heart-pine tobacco sticks.

Tobacco Barn Bedroom…. this gabled bedroom is finished off with old beadboard salvaged from the 1900, Cheves Road house. Measured and hand cut by William Gower (one of his masterpieces). The paint was brushed down by Dewey and sealed with water-based polyurethane. The flooring in the entire house was taken from old barns at the 1900-house on Cheves Road.

The staircase was designed for the space. We used blue tape to mark off the beginning step design and worked up with the plan…. Randy Gower is a “wonder” with stairs!!

Kitchen and Bathrooms

This section is a “shed-roof design” extension off the back of the Tobacco Barn. All three rooms are walled with old bead board. Ceiling in kitchen is covered with tin roofing from 1900 Cheves Road house.

Log Bedroom….

This room was created from 3 different log structures… Dewey picked the best from the supply he had taken down and reassembled it with the help of William (Billy) Gower. The electrical work was installed by Wesley Privittee and his “right arm” Randy… Then the chinking was done by Dewey and a few “selected” helpers.

When we planned the stairs in the Log Bedroom, we did so by applying blue tape to the floor in different angles until we came up with the plan we liked best and Randy built it from there…. The posts are made with the tier poles that came from the Tobacco Barn that was moved in by Henry Bunn. There were 18 poles. We had some of the poles cut into slabs… to be used as handrails and others cut for corner and support posts. The spindles are old heart pine tobacco sticks hand picked for their individual “character..

The Loft walls/ceiling in this bedroom are constructed from old pine paneling from a house Dewey found at Wake Crossroads. The house itself was scheduled for destruction in order to build a new subdivision…. The owner offered it up for “materials needed” before the bulldozers took the rest.

The BarnHouse is wrapped in 850 sq ft of screened porches…. made for “outdoor” living.

Materials….. all of the materials gathered from 15 old structures were done so by Dewey Botts with the help of three 15-year-old boys….. our grandson Jake Newbauer, Ethan Hart and Ivan “the wonderful”. We know they had never been “dirtier” in their lives and hope it is an experience they will always remember with fondness!

The Lodge

This house built in 1983 by a local man; Malcolm Martin has 2 bedrooms, a sleeping loft and 2 ½ bathrooms. The exterior is cypress clapboard and the interior is knotty pine and drywall and the sleeping loft has a whitewashed wood paneling with a half bath. We call it ‘the dorm room’

It was purchased in 2005 after going into foreclosure. It was a very attractive house when it was built but was in DREADFUL disrepair at foreclosure.

There was a leaking roof, ceilings were in the floor and EVERYTHING was smelly and grungy. The exterior cypress siding had taken on a “new life”, literally, there was a substance growing on the wood that made it look, from a distance, like it was painted. DREADFUL!

Not sure if it was feasible to renovate, advice from a builder was sought and after looking at the foundation/underpending and all the water damage it was decided that yes, the house could be saved. BUT WAS IT WORTH IT!! There were times in the beginning when that question was up for grabs.

It took a year to “bring it back from the dead” but it truly was worth the effort. This is when Randy Gower (another of the Gower brothers) came to help with “phase Lodge”…

The BarnHouse was put on hold while this ‘pitiful’ house could be saved from neglect.

First thing was to put on a new roof and get it dry. From there it was a matter of cleaning out all the crud that was lying in the floor from the ceilings that had collapsed. Then new walls and ceilings replaced the gaping holes. The next thing to go was a wood stove in the living room, which left a large hole in the “new” carpet. Instead of patching the carpet, a decision was made to put in a strip of pine flooring from the kitchen to the exterior front wall.

Off the upstairs balcony loft area was an attic with a space large enough to make a nice size room. The only problem was the “ships ladder” that led to the balcony. It was way to small to be functional. So we decided to build a new staircase and make the upstairs area an active part of the living space.

Randy built a new cabinet to house the refrigerator where the ships ladder had been. And matched the design of the existing cabinets with new doors over this space. We decided on open shelves for the kitchen and stained them to blend with all the woodwork.

The woodwork! What a mess all the wood was in this house. With his “magic electric brush, Dewey Botts cleaned EVERY board, doors and windows, inside and out. The house seemed able to breathe again.

The pantry was a pass through to the outside. Randy suggested that we divide the space in half and make a true pantry, and from the outside have a small storage room…. Perfect!

New duck work was installed under the house. Ceiling fans were added. Closets were restructured. New doorknobs for the doors. New light fixtures. There seemed to be hundreds of details to be repaired or replaced. It took a full year, longer than it would have taken to build a new house. But what a waste it would have been to throw away all those solid materials.

The Lodge is enjoyed everyday by family, friends and guests.