200-Year-Old Log Cabin Discovered Beneath Pennsylvania Bar Marked for Demolition: 'It's Incredible'

Contractors tasked with tearing down a blighted bar in Pennsylvania were surprised to discover what is thought to be a 200-year-old log cabin beneath its panels.

The building on the corner of Water and Front Streets in the rural, agricultural borough of Washingtonville, Montour County, was marked for demolition around three years ago Frank Dombroski, borough council president of Washingtonville, told Newsweek.

"After our demolition contractor started pulling the outsides of the building off, [he] discovered there was a log cabin in there," Dombroski told ABC-affiliate WNEP-TV.

Council authorities met with a specialist who said the antique cabin thought to date as far back as the 1700s can be saved, Dombroski said.
"He [the contractor] said it's very much salvageable, and he couldn't believe it himself, what we uncovered here, and said it's very much worth saving," Dombroski told WNEP.

Following a meeting on Tuesday, councillors of the borough, which has a population of around 270, decided to take down the cabin by hand, number and catalog it, then rebuild it in a separate location in Washingtonville.

Local resident Billy Culp told WNEP-TV: "I think it's incredible. I think it's neat to see what's going on in the history of our town. I hope we can find out more about it."

Dombroski told Newsweek: "Everyone was shocked as the building additions were torn away, and the cabin was what remained. The log cabin has become a bit of a tourist attraction for us when otherwise, we are a pretty quiet little town."

Mayor Tyler Dombroski, the son of Frank, told the Daily Item: "It came completely out of left field with nobody involved with the project seeing it. We knew going through the building there were some beams in the back of the old bar room that we wanted to salvage because they were so beautiful.

"As the contractor started to peel off the additions to the building from over the years, we started to see exposed beams and then the entire log cabin. Everybody's jaws dropped because it's a very old structure—probably 200 years old."

Roger Lehman, a foreman with Farhat General Construction of Halifax, told The Daily Item the building's wide beams appear to be made of hickory wood, and cut with an axe.

"We've torn things down, but this is our first find that has been unique," Lehman said. He added that no one knew the building had two stories.

Frank Dombroski told Newsweek some people have expressed interest in buying the two-story cabin covering 1,200 square feet. "Given this discovered history however, it seems that the majority of our residents think the cabin should be commemorated somehow within our community," he said.

Frank Dombroski said the oldest known map of the borough from 1860 shows an L-shaped marking at the site. It is evident that the cabin was the nucleus of the building at the corner of the L, with additions made on to the log cabin portion before 1860, he said. It may have been built after the conclusion of the American Revolution, but "the origin of the building is really a mystery right now."

"The building was just your local small town bar when it was in operation," he went on. "It had closed probably about 12 years ago and had been condemned about 3.5 years ago. The building was in bad shape for a long time. I'm assuming the bar went out of business because it was no longer lucrative."

The borough council president said the community is now raising funds to commemorate the cabin.

"Because we are a small, rural community, we have a small budget to begin with, and no money set aside to rehabilitate the building which could be quite expensive."

And the process could take years, he said. "In the immediate term, the cabin is going to need to be torn down by hand and catalogued so it can potentially be reconstructed at a later date," said Frank Dombroski.

"Unfortunately, the building has no roof right now and is exposed to the elements. Additionally, the building is not secure and is technically still condemned," he said, adding: "A project to rehabilitate the building is way beyond the borough's financial means so grants and donations will be needed to somehow commemorate the building at a later date."

This article has been updated with comment from Frank Dombroski.

Washingtonville log cabin, Pennsylvania,
An image from Google Street View take in 2018 shows the structure before its panels were removed to reveal an antique log cabin. Google Maps

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