- The Washington Times - Monday, June 19, 2006

RICHMOND — The secret to the white farmhouse revealed itself in a tiny closet under the creaky, pine stairs. Only there, among Kirby Nuckols’ canned tomatoes, squash and pickles, could you get a glimpse of the massive logs. “Everybody that came to the house looked under the steps,” said Mr. Nuckols’ daughter, Susan Deel. While she never doubted her childhood home was made of logs, Miss Deel did not get the proof until workers started taking it apart about a week ago. After the plaster and siding were gone, Miss Deel took photos to show her 90-year-old mother. “That was amazing,” Miss Deel said Thursday, looking at a snapshot of the exposed exterior. “We’d always talked about the log cabin, and there it is.” The 1-story farmhouse, thought to be the last remaining log home in Henrico County, sits on the western side of Pouncey Tract Road near Twin Hickory Lake Drive. Miss Deel’s family sold the property last year to Wilton Development Corp., which plans a 67-lot subdivision. Kerry Shackelford, who specializes in wood-home restorations, is working with Wilton Development, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and others to document, move and reassemble the log house on his property in New Kent County. Mr. Shackelford, president of Museum Resources, lives in a log home that dates to the 1720s, he said. Last week, he walked through the house in Henrico County with representatives of the Department of Historic Resources, marveling at the good condition of the logs and signs of whitewash. They discussed whether the house should be reassembled as it was first built or with the crude addition that came later. “This is probably the only log building that exists in the county,” Mr. Shackelford said. “It would have been a shame to see it demolished or dismantled for its parts.” The house is called the Leake House after one of its owners. Miss Deel said her grandparents, Robert and Hallie Fennell, bought the property about 1945. The oldest section of the house dates probably to sometime between 1840 and 1870, judging by the cut nails that were used and the bold saw marks in the wood, according to Mr. Shackelford and Kristin Hill, an architectural historian with the Department of Historic Resources. The Association for the Preservation of Henrico Antiquities has worked for months to save the house, which was initially offered to Henrico County. “Quite frankly, we’ve taken a lot of these buildings and done something with them, but we can’t save them all,” said Chuck Peple, research and development coordinator for Henrico County. He and Henry Nelson, president of the antiquities association, consider moving the house to New Kent County a good alternative. “Sometimes you can save them on site, and sometimes you have to remove it,” Mr. Nelson said. Miss Deel said her family never pursued a historic designation for the house because they worried it could hinder a sale. She recalled how a piece of a newspaper from the late 1800s was stuck between the logs under the stairs and how a cable technician did not have a drill bit big enough to bore through the thick walls. “I’m just really glad they are going to do something with it,” Miss Deel said. “We couldn’t have afforded to do anything with it.”

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