18th century cabin being rebuilt in Waynesboro, Pa.

July 23, 1997


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Waynesboro residents will have a chance to see some 18th century craftsmanship next week, as restoration work begins on the borough's oldest existing structure.

Local preservationist Terry Pelton will hoist an ancient broadax and hew a stack of oak timber into the logs that will be used to recreate the cabin he dismantled earlier this month.

Called Burns Cabin, or Bourns Cabin, depending on the version of local history consulted, the one-story log cabin will stand on the hillside overlooking the old tollgate building that houses the Greater Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce office at the intersection of East Main Street and Roadside Avenue.


"The cabin is one of those things that have always been here that no one ever paid attention to. Now that I've started to work on it, it's been getting a lot of attention," Pelton said.

He welcomes residents to stop by and watch him work on the project, which he expects to complete by fall.

The cabin was in such disrepair that Pelton said he had to tear it down and start over. Most of the original parts cannot be used, he said. Much of the replacement lumber will come from a Greencastle, Pa., church that was built around the same time as was the cabin.

Twenty-eight logs were used in the original cabin, and 17 are too rotted to use, Pelton said. The 14- to 16-inch wide boards in the original floor had been covered by other flooring, and he was not yet sure whether they can be reused.

He hopes to use part of the original door on the cabin. The four windows will be replaced using old glass salvaged from other buildings.

Pelton uses only 18th century tools in his restorations.

"There's no power up here anyway," he said.

He saved about 150 of the original handmade nails from the cabin, all of which he believes were made by John Burns, the original builder. The original nails are too brittle to reuse.

Pelton believes Burns, a local blacksmith and sawmill owner, built the 18-by-24-foot cabin around 1780 for use as a schoolhouse for his 11 children. After that it was used as a church. From the 1860s through the early 20th century, it was the home of a woman who raised at least 10 children there, Pelton said.

"It's been empty since then," he said.

Pelton was the only bidder for the cabin project. He will be paid between $14,000 and $19,500.

The project is being funded jointly by the Waynesboro Beneficial Fund, a local group that raises money for local projects, and the Waynesboro Area School System, Pelton said.

When finished, the cabin will become an historic exhibit for student tours, Pelton said. Students helped raise money to restore the cabin, he said.

Pelton, 46, of Waynesboro, makes reproduction 18th and 19th century furniture in a building he rents at the Renfrew Museum. In recent years he has rebuilt several buildings at Renfrew using 18th century tools and technology.

He currently is restoring the Fahnestock House on the museum property.

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