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The client’s primary goal for this project was to provide a guest cottage for the weekend farmhouse that Chambers Architects recently completed for this same client on their property in East Texas, land that has been in their family since 1871.

When discussions for a guest cottage began, this cabin, located in central Texas, was still in the family, but not located near the East Texas property owned by this branch of the long-term Texas family.

The cabin had been remodeled in the 1950’s and the ‘dogtrot’ portion was completely covered by the remodel. The owners were considering selling the structure for its lumber when it was discovered that the 1856 dogtrot was beneath the relatively newer construction.

The original dogtrot log cabin is one that the client’s great-great-grandfather built with his own hands when he moved to Texas in 1856. The client decided to purchase the remodeled cabin from the rest of his family and begin a restoration of the original two-pen dogtrot that was buried beneath. The vintage structure consisted of two cabins (pens) separated by an open passageway (dog-run or dogtrot), with a continuous gable roof covering both cabins and the passageway between them.

Key Challenges

• Preserve and protect the historical elements of the structure with the least invasive methods possible. The original log cabin received a remodel in the 1950’s and could not be seen in its original form until the entire structure was disassembled.

• Disassemble and move the original log cabin from central Texas to the owners’ property in East Texas to serve as the guesthouse for a home already built there.

• Establish the natural amenities of the site; then, preserve and respect them. Save and protect the valuable specimen trees and present a solution for their utilization into plans for natural lighting, solar shading, and overall aesthetics.

• Find a way to allow the topography to work for the design and not against it.


We hired Heritage Restorations near Waco, TX, pre-eminent timber and log restorers and builders, to dismantle and remove old house from a remodeled cabin that was in disrepair and considered to be salvageable for the lumber alone. Heritage Restorations carefully dismantled the attached structure and removed all of the historical material (exterior logs, floor, and cedar siding), marked each handmade log and moved them to their facility near Waco, TX.

Then the historical materials were fumigated. Once the design to restore the original two-pen dogtrot was completed, the restored materials were taken to the property in East Texas, near Tyler, and reassembled as the original two-pen dogtrot. Two shed roof additions were made to the back of the cabin to provide a kitchen and a bath. All of the other materials used, other then hidden framing, were antique wood of a similar era and locale provided by Heritage Restorations.

The vintage structure, as reassembled, consists of two cabins (pens) separated by an open passageway (dog-run or dogtrot), with a continuous gable roof covering both cabins and the passageway between them. The porch extends across the entire front of the house and the passage between the two pens was enclosed by screens. The lean-to shed, constructed at the rear of each cabin for kitchen and bathroom is typical of sheds often added to these 19th century Texas log cabins.

Much care was taken to preserve the embodied energy, historic and cultural value of the original log home constructed by the owner’s great-great grandfather in the mid 1800’s. The log portion of building is now protected with appropriate roof overhangs. The original handmade log portion and used existing openings were preserved, a metal roof an appropriate look for this period is a recycled and recyclable material. All exposed and visible materials are antique, recycled from another property of a similar period and locale in Texas. Modern techniques to insulate roof of building and walls of the addition were employed.

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