The Brooks Hill Cabin

by Kyle Walker

The Brooks Hill Cabin, one of two historic cabins owned by the South Whidbey Historical Society, is an example of log cabin construction of the 1890’s on South Whidbey. It was named after the Brooks Hill area in Langley where it was originally located.

The southern portion of the island, with its heavy forests and dense undergrowth, was settled more slowly than the prairie lands of North Whidbey. The earliest settlers on South Whidbey were remote homesteaders or those who purchased land for the purpose of logging. In 2016 the cabin was saved from demolition and restored at its current location on the Island County Fairground.

An initial analysis of the cabin and requirements for reconstruction were conducted by Langley resident and nationally recognized architectural historian Harrison Goodall. Reconstructed in its original square corner notch style, the cabin was given a modern cedar roof, a solid foundation and treated for powder post beetle.

The original cabin rafters had been constructed using square cut nails. The horizontal spaces or joints between logs were filled with a combination of materials that together is known as “chinking” and “daubing.” Chinking and daubing completed the exterior walls of the log pen by sealing them against driving wind and snow, helping them to shed rain, and blocking the entry of vermin.

At the time of reconstruction, Goodall said “It has an old rural landscape and we’ve been able to maintain the old South Whidbey very well. The SW historical Society is taking the initiative to preserve our heritage.”

Harrison Goodall has been nationally recognized for his research and writing on historic preservation as well as being a premier authority on historic building restoration work. He is well known for his expertise in restoring log, timber, and frame structures.

The cabin was refurbished by volunteers from the South Whidbey Home Builders Association, a community donation drive provided funds for its preservation. Building materials and labor were also donated by longtime South Whidbey patrons Charles and Gayle Pancerzewski and Dave Johnson.

Their contributions included funding a small shake mill who were willing to make the shingles of a size to the cabin’s original construction. This cultural relic and its artifacts feature a photographic collection of other early log cabins on South Whidbey by local artist Ed Severinghaus including the photo below of a former Log Cabin on Edgecliff Drive in the Greater Sandy Point Area near Langley.

The Brooks Hill Log Cabin is open to the public for four days during the Island County Fair in late July. The structure is also used for meetings and lectures by the South Whidbey Historical Society throughout the year.

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