CCHA Preservation Projects
Marshall and Milliken Log Cabins
Early in 1999, the Chatham County Historical Association and the Chatham County Agricultural and Industrial Fair Association agreed to work together to reconstruct two log houses in Pittsboro. The Milliken house, built by a formerly enslaved man named Bob, was given to the county fair association and moved from its original location about seven miles northwest of Pittsboro to the County Fairgrounds in 1977, where it was renovated under the supervision of C.W. Bryant. By 1996 the woods had grown up to obscure the cabin and a large oak fell on it during Hurricane Fran. By 1999 it had been dismantled and piers had been raised on a higher piece of ground for its reconstruction.
In 1999, the Chatham County Historical Association was given two log houses by Ellen and Sheldon Rothman. Located on property formerly belonging to the Marshall family in northwestern Chatham County, the houses had been vacant for some years and one of the fireplaces had been removed to build a stone wall. Early history of the houses is still unclear, but we think that Jonathan Marshall built the smaller of the two houses before 1850 and that his son Newton built the second house after the families returned from Indiana following the Civil War. Tenant farmers occupied the houses in the 1930s, according to neighbors, who said that an owner ran a pottery school in the buildings in the 1950s.
Reconstructing the Cabins
In February 1999, crews of volunteers from both organizations, under the leadership of Greg Talbott, dismantled the two Marshall buildings and transported usable logs and other lumber to Pittsboro. The older house, logs numbered, was to be built on a lot on Rectory Street between West Street and Salisbury Street, while the later house was to be used to scavenge parts for use in both the Marshall and Milliken house.
Stonemasons Joe Kenlan and Michael Yarborough raised piers in early fall 1999, and the logs were stacked in two stages during the winter and early spring of 2000. Weather, the need for lumber, and other delays postponed raising the roof rafters until spring 2001, and shortly thereafter, Tim Blount was hired to shingle the roof, completing the job in May. Plans to chink the cabin and rebuild the chimney were put off as the association concentrated on other projects.
Volunteers then moved to the fairgrounds to start work on the Milliken house. After stacking logs to about the five-foot level, additional logs had to be found to continue the work because the original logs had deteriorated. Attempts were made to find old log structures that might be donated to the organizations, and when these failed a local lumbering firm was contracted to furnish the needed material. Stacking the Milliken cabin was completed in spring of 2002, and Tim Blount once again shingled the roof, completing the project in January 2004. Chinking of the walls was completed just prior to the 2010 Chatham County Agricultural Fair. Reconstruction of the chimney remains to be completed.
The Cabins Today
From 1999 until 2016, the Marshall cabin rested peacefully on land owned by Jane Pyle on Rectory Street in Pittsboro. Chinking and the chimney rebuild were still to be accomplished. When Hobbs Architects purchased the historic Lewis Freeman House from the estate of Jane Pyle in 2015, it also purchased the cabin from the CCHA and moved it a short distance from Rectory Street to the Lewis Freeman House property on Salisbury Street. The cabin has been renovated with new windows and doors for use as a special office conference room.