THE HUNTER’S CABIN – Restoring a Piece of Goffstown History
It all started with a crooked shed.
Well, “crooked” is really an understatement. More like topsy-turvy. Have you ever seen the buildings in Dr. Seuss’ books? The ones that are precariously perched, like they’re on the verge of falling over? Yup. That’s our shed.
When we first toured our house, it was late Spring, and plenty of snow was still on the ground. I remember walking around the property (as best we could) and checking things out. We quickly saw the shed and thought, "Perfect. Storage." It wasn't until the snow melted that we could really see what we were working with.
The front was bowing outward. The right face was bowing inward. The front left corner had sunk so far into the ground that you couldn’t see it anymore. And that roofline. I’ve seen pringles that were straighter than that roof.
So many people told us to tear it down. It’s too far gone. Just level it. Put a new shed there. And I might have listened to them. Well, probably not. No. I never would’ve listened.
There was just something about that shed. Crooked as can be—yes. But, it had character. It had history, and it had charm. And I wasn’t tearing it down dammit.
Plus, I like a good project, and this was one I could sink my teeth into.
So, it was settled. The shed stays. Now, here comes the fun part. How are we going to fix it?
N O T S O C R O O K E D
First things first. Let’s take the “crooked” out of this thing.
We took out our handy-dandy car jack and got to work, improvising with what we had. We started with that front left corner. That was definitely the low point. So, we got our shovels and started digging the corner out. We dug around and started looking for a solid anchor point for the jack—you can’t just jack up rotting wood. Lucky for us, we found something solid. We maneuvered the jack and started cranking. And it rose.
One inch. Two inches. Three inches. Still crooked.
Three turned to four. Four to five. Five to six. Still crooked.
Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Eleven. Twelve.
At twelve we stopped. The shed let out a moan. Was it still crooked? Sure, a bit. Were we about to blow the windows out? Sure, a lot. So, we took the lesser of two evils. At the end of the day, we wanted this shed to remain standing. We would take slightly askew over a blown-out, busted up shed.
So, there she stood. The main section of the shed was now (fairly) plumb. The roofline straightened out as we lowered the front right corner. But, now we had a different problem. The porch was separating.
T H E P O R C H P R O B L E M
Now, whoever built this thing clearly just used whatever scrap lumber they had on hand. Especially with the porch columns and railings, there was no rhyme or reason. These had to go. A couple of blows with the sledgehammer did the trick, and boom. It’s out with the old and in with the new. We ran new headers to support the porch’s roofline, and the new columns went in. One. Two. Three. Four.
Now for the floor. Despite how dilapidated the porch floor looked, it was actually sound. We went back and forth on it, but at the end of the day, we decided to just go right over the existing boards. We installed some heavy-duty bracing, and on the decking went.
We took a step back. It looked good. It wasn't perfect, but it certainly was a huge improvement.
You couldn’t call the shed topsy-turvy anymore. The roofline had straightened out immensely. It had a new porch. And it functioned. Now, you could walk right onto the porch from any direction. You don’t have to walk all the way around the columns and railings just to access it like before.
Form and function.
P I E C E O F H I S T O R Y
A fresh coat of paint. Some new lumber. A little love and TLC. This little shed was shaping up. But now, what to turn it in to? It was too sweet looking to become a place to store old equipment and collect cobwebs. So what will it be? A She Shed? Potting shed? Art studio?
After talking with a neighbor, we discovered that our little shed was actually a camp. Huh. We were originally confused when we found knob and tube wiring coming out of its side. And at 12'x14' with a front porch to boot, it did seem a bit lavish for just a shed. Now it made sense. Knob and tube became obsolete in the early 1940s. Since our house was built in '54, this camp easily predated our house.
We learned that it was originally used as a hunting cabin. Hunters would pile in and use it as their home base during hunting season. A seasonal brook runs right behind it—bringing in deer, fox, fisher, even bear. Now, I was really happy we didn’t tear it down. This was our little piece of history. Goffstown history.
So, it’s decided. We will have a hunting cabin. Maybe we'll even set up some cots for any not-so-welcome house guests.
Now just to finish it.
Will that happen before winter hits? You tell me.