Pre-Civil War cabin near Jefferson City needs new home

Sunday, November 28, 2004

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A lot of time and craftsmanship more than 145 years ago went into building a pair of log cabins with a center dogtrot.

Now the same painstaking care is being used to dismantle and relocate the Cole County home of oak and stone, now located off Highway 179.

After removing the exterior siding, interior studs and drywall, Dale Scheperle and his work crew have discovered the pre-Civil War cabin to be in good condition.

Scheperle believes the cabin should be made accessible to the public. Local historic preservationists have been helping him contact public entities that might be able to find a location for the homestead built by Bartholomew Wallendorf.

In addition to the architectural history, the site also qualifies for the National Register of Historic Places because Gen. Sterling Price made the decision not to attack the Capitol during the Civil War while lodging at the Wallendorf property.

In fact, the Missouri Department of Transportation chose to avoid the property for that reason when designing Highway 179, according to a 1995 cultural resources survey.

Because the cabin is outside Jefferson City limits, the city's historic preservation commission has no jurisdiction, said Commissioner Jane Beetem.

But "it is a historic resource worth finding a place for," Beetem said.

"No one's upset, but we'd like to see it remain in Cole County and be thoroughly documented."

From a heritage tourism perspective, Beetem said the Wallendorf cabin could draw visitors.

Scheperle said he hopes a public entity would offer a public-viewing area to reconstruct the cabin. He also has visited with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department and the Cole County Historical Society.

"It's a neat old cabin that would fit good in a park or other public area, where it would be preserved properly," and displayed with its history, Scheperle said.

Otherwise, Scheperle, who specializes in dismantling and reassembling cabins, will place it on private property.

The original pine floors and stairwell, as well as the large stone fireplace, will accompany the cabin wherever it is reconstructed, Scheperle said.

"It's in overall good condition compared with others I've seen," he said, "and larger than most found in this area, too."

Each side has a 20-by-20-foot footprint and two stories.

Scheperle would like to find photographs of the home's original interior to possibly recreate the mantle, front door and window designs.

"This is a good concept. You don't find many of these, so when you do, you don't want to see them destroyed," he said. "A lot of trees and labor -- quite an effort -- went into this house. It's unique and has its own character."

And this could be one of the most significant Civil War pieces left in the mid-Missouri, he added.

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