18th-Century Log Cabin Discovered Beneath Condemned Pennsylvania Bar
The structure can be saved, experts say, but whether it can stay in the local community remains unclear
A condemned bar has sat awaiting demolition on the corner of Water and Front Streets in the small borough of Washingtonville, Pennsylvania, for more than three years. Recently, contractors finally began to tear the building down, only to discover a historic surprise hidden beneath the bar’s exterior: a log cabin, believed to be 200 years old, that is “very much salvageable,” as local council president Frank Dombroski tells WNEP’s Nikki Krize.
Prior to the cabin’s discovery, locals had stumbled upon hints that the bar, which has been shuttered for about 12 years, contained precious relics of the area’s past. Tyler Dombroski, mayor of the borough (and Frank’s son), tells Karen Blackledge of the Daily Item that officials had planned to save some beams in the back of the bar room “because they were so beautiful.” But when work on the building exposed not only the beams, but an entire log cabin, “Everybody’s jaws dropped,” according to the mayor, “because it’s a very old structure.”
The cabin spans two stories, and its beams, at least, are believed to be made of hickory wood. After the discovery, a specialist assessed the cabin and said it was likely built in the 1700s, reports Kashmira Gander for Newsweek.
Washingtonville is one of the oldest settlements in Montour County, Pennsylvania, which traces its roots as far back as 1775. The earliest known map of the borough, created in 1860, shows an L-shaped structure on the site of the newly unearthed building. The log cabin appears to sit at the corner of the “L.” As Frank Dombroski tells Newsweek, other additions were appended to the building at some point before the map was made. It is possible, he says, that the cabin was built after the end of the American Revolution in 1783, but its origins are “really a mystery right now.”
Just as pressing as unearthing the cabin’s history is figuring out what to do with it. The structure can’t remain where it is because it has no roof and would be threatened by the elements. Buyers have expressed interest in purchasing the property, but “the majority of our residents think the cabin should be commemorated somehow within our community,” explains Frank to Newsweek.
Council members have asked a contractor to prepare a proposal for taking the cabin down by hand, per the Daily Item. Each piece of the historic building will be numbered and cataloged, with the goal of reconstructing it in a different location at a later date. Officials hope that the structure will someday be rebuilt in Washingtonville—but whether such a project will be possible for the borough of 270 residents remains uncertain.
“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,” Frank tells Newsweek.
Washingtonville is raising funds to help out with the initiative, but for now, locals are simply enjoying the cabin while it still stands in its original location.
As Mayor Tyler Dombroski tells the Daily Item, “It’s like a tourism attraction.”