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A Cozy Log Home

Emmitsburg, Maryland

This two-floor log home had been in active habitation for generations but modernizations and repairs after a fire had robbed it of much of its beauty and charm.  We performed extensive log repairs and rechinked the interior of the building, but sealed and insulated the structure with Icynene foam before installing new half-lapped board siding.  We replaced a very unsympathetic addition with a small timber-framed awning roof over the back door and replaced the dillapidated concrete porch with a rustic oak-framed porch in keeping with the rural character of the home.

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As we started this appeared to be a ramshackle small farmhouse on its last legs.

As we started this appeared to be a ramshackle small farmhouse on its last legs.
A poorly built lean-to addition and a dilapidated concrete front porch had been added over the years.

A poorly built lean-to addition and a dilapidated concrete front porch had been added over the years.
The concrete front porch is cracked and sagging, but adds a lot of character to the house, so we'll replicate that feature.

The concrete front porch is cracked and sagging, but adds a lot of character to the house, so we'll replicate that feature.
The interior had been covered in wallpaper, ceiling paneling, and various moldering floor coverings.

The interior had been covered in wallpaper, ceiling paneling, and various moldering floor coverings.
Water stains and sagging interior surfaces indicate that behind the neglected finish materials lie more serious issues.

Water stains and sagging interior surfaces indicate that behind the neglected finish materials lie more serious issues.
With the addition and aluminum siding stripped off, the remnants of the original board siding appear.

With the addition and aluminum siding stripped off, the remnants of the original board siding appear.
The old siding shows signs of whitewash from generations ago.

The old siding shows signs of whitewash from generations ago.
Missing sections of siding indicate that the porch roof was indeed original to the structure, or a very early addition.

Missing sections of siding indicate that the porch roof was indeed original to the structure, or a very early addition.
Removing the interior finishes shows that this building was constructed in a very distinctive style where the logs are tenoned into vertical corner posts.

Removing the interior finishes shows that this building was constructed in a very distinctive style where the logs are tenoned into vertical corner posts.
Mortise and tenon joinery instead of saddle- or "V"-notches as is common to log structures.

Mortise and tenon joinery instead of saddle- or "V"-notches as is common to log structures.
An interior stairway shows signs of a significant fire at some point in the home's history.

An interior stairway shows signs of a significant fire at some point in the home's history.
Looking up the stairwell it is apparent that major fire damage required many sections of logs to be replaced with some very light framing.

Looking up the stairwell it is apparent that major fire damage required many sections of logs to be replaced with some very light framing.
With the interior stripped back to the logs, the road to recovery begins.

With the interior stripped back to the logs, the road to recovery begins.
One of the two chimneys was so eroded that it was possible to reach into the flue from inside the attic.

One of the two chimneys was so eroded that it was possible to reach into the flue from inside the attic.
The other chimney, built with a strong angle, was in danger of collapse.

The other chimney, built with a strong angle, was in danger of collapse.
Removing the old siding shows the beautiful bones of a lovely cabin, but shows some trouble spots, too.

Removing the old siding shows the beautiful bones of a lovely cabin, but shows some trouble spots, too.
Decades of water infiltration have decayed some major logs down to matchsticks.

Decades of water infiltration have decayed some major logs down to matchsticks.
And the extent of the damage from a fire becomes apparent.

And the extent of the damage from a fire becomes apparent.
First step to structural repairs -- racking the frame back to square and plumb.

First step to structural repairs -- racking the frame back to square and plumb.
With the frame square, we begin replacing the damaged logs.

With the frame square, we begin replacing the damaged logs.
The fire-damaged area is reconstructed with new logs, tenoned into the corner post as the originals were.

The fire-damaged area is reconstructed with new logs, tenoned into the corner post as the originals were.
The water-damaged logs in the west wall are replaced as well.  Note the vertical blocking added to provide the rigidity originally provided by wood and rubble nogging.

The water-damaged logs in the west wall are replaced as well. Note the vertical blocking added to provide the rigidity originally provided by wood and rubble nogging.
The interior of all walls are chinked with new historically sensitive mortar.  This is the fire-damaged area, good as new!

The interior of all walls are chinked with new historically sensitive mortar. This is the fire-damaged area, good as new!
With the interior chinking finished, we install a grid of nailers to provide a level surface to secure the new siding, and to add insulation depth.

With the interior chinking finished, we install a grid of nailers to provide a level surface to secure the new siding, and to add insulation depth.
Where the gaps between the logs were originally filled with rubble, bits of wood, and mortar, we'll fill those spaces with insulating foam.

Where the gaps between the logs were originally filled with rubble, bits of wood, and mortar, we'll fill those spaces with insulating foam.
The insulation foam (Icynene) is brought up flush with the siding nailers, providing a very snug building envelope.

The insulation foam (Icynene) is brought up flush with the siding nailers, providing a very snug building envelope.
Now is the time to reconstruct the chimneys.  Notice the string-lines used to ensure we follow the same slant as the original chimney.

Now is the time to reconstruct the chimneys. Notice the string-lines used to ensure we follow the same slant as the original chimney.
The new half-lapped poplar siding goes on.

The new half-lapped poplar siding goes on.
A new timber framed awning shields the back door from the weather.

A new timber framed awning shields the back door from the weather.
And the front porch is recreated with a sympathetic oak-framed structure in perfect keeping with the rustic nature of the home.

And the front porch is recreated with a sympathetic oak-framed structure in perfect keeping with the rustic nature of the home.
Masonry repairs include repointing and capping the basement entrance areaway walls.

Masonry repairs include repointing and capping the basement entrance areaway walls.
A bit of framing helps support the new leaning chimney.

A bit of framing helps support the new leaning chimney.
Siding complete.

Siding complete.
New chinking, freshly pointed chimney, and a brand new window.

New chinking, freshly pointed chimney, and a brand new window.
We made the second floor into one large room, and added a post and summer beam to better support the attic floor.  Big bright windows and fresh chinking make the space warm and inviting.

We made the second floor into one large room, and added a post and summer beam to better support the attic floor. Big bright windows and fresh chinking make the space warm and inviting.
A new coat of roof paint and new gutters and downspouts add a finishing touch.

A new coat of roof paint and new gutters and downspouts add a finishing touch.
The new porch is a great place to enjoy a quiet afternoon with a book.

The new porch is a great place to enjoy a quiet afternoon with a book.
The Log Home Re-Emerges from Hibernation

The Log Home Re-Emerges from Hibernation
Front Porch With New Door

Front Porch With New Door
The doors are constructed of beaded tongue-and-groove boards and strong-backs, clinch nailed.  The depth of the jambs makes apparent the thickness of the log walls.

The doors are constructed of beaded tongue-and-groove boards and strong-backs, clinch nailed. The depth of the jambs makes apparent the thickness of the log walls.
Doors are made in the style of many early period entries, and are hung on reproduction Victorian era hardware.

Doors are made in the style of many early period entries, and are hung on reproduction Victorian era hardware.
To add light and a little personality, we added an awning type window to the door which can be propped open for ventilation.

To add light and a little personality, we added an awning type window to the door which can be propped open for ventilation.
The doors and windows are painted with a natural, historic linseed oil-based paint.

The doors and windows are painted with a natural, historic linseed oil-based paint.
Newly repointed chimney with liner and cap is ready for a cozy wood stove.  The efficient modern insulation in the walls will mean one heat source will be plenty to warm the whole house.

Newly repointed chimney with liner and cap is ready for a cozy wood stove. The efficient modern insulation in the walls will mean one heat source will be plenty to warm the whole house.
Opposite view of sitting room.  The house also features a new electrical system.

Opposite view of sitting room. The house also features a new electrical system.
Second floor, flooded with the light of the setting sun.

Second floor, flooded with the light of the setting sun.
The "back" door faces the drive and so needs to be inviting.  The asymmetric pattern of windows is a mark of antique home authenticity and charm.

The "back" door faces the drive and so needs to be inviting. The asymmetric pattern of windows is a mark of antique home authenticity and charm.
An inviting and playful entrance welcomes visitors.

An inviting and playful entrance welcomes visitors.
View from the drive is hospitable and warm without overshadowing the more grand front facade of the house.

View from the drive is hospitable and warm without overshadowing the more grand front facade of the house.
A Beautiful Log Home Reborn

A Beautiful Log Home Reborn