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Demolition Crew Finds Pioneer Cabin Inside 20th-Century Home

City of Orem says pioneer home will be preserved inside new park
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2021 5:45 PM CST
Log Cabin From 1880s Found Inside Utah Home
The city shared this photo of the house after it was prepped for removal.   (City of Orem Government)

Demolition of a 20th-century home in Orem, Utah was halted after contractors found a 19th-century home inside. The log cabin built by Swedish settler Carl Hanson around 1885 is going to be preserved at the city's new Heritage Park, a few miles south of its original location, the Sacramento Bee reports. Contractor Bill Fairbanks says that behind mid-20th-century walls, his crew found the pioneer cabin "still sitting on its rock foundation." The two-room cabin made up the living room and kitchen of the newer home. "We started pulling the house apart and chipped away at the walls," Fairbanks says. "We peeled layer by layer.”

Hanson married Mary, a fellow Swede, around the time the cabin was built and Fairbanks tells the Daily Herald that Hanson apparently wanted to keep her comfortable. "As we were cleaning up and peeling walls back we realized this isn’t any old cabin," Fairbanks says. "The logs were hand hewn and squared up with plaster in between," instead of the mud that would be used in a typical cabin of the era. The home was lifted from its foundation Tuesday and moved to a temporary storage facility. City officials say they are looking into having it restored to "reflect accurately what the cabin may have looked like in the 1880s."

Stan Hanson says his great-grandparents Carl and Mary had six children and Carl Hanson set up his blacksmith shop next to the cabin. The story of Japanese American Harry Shimada and his family is also part of the cabin's history, the Herald reports. Fairbanks says the Shimadas were California residents whose farm was sold while they were interned in Wyoming during World War II. "They had nothing but the clothes on their backs," Fairbanks says. "They came to Utah and worked with the Stratton family," who had orchards in Orem. He says they ended up buying the land the cabin was on and running a fruit stand. In a Facebook post, the city thanked the family for donating the cabin to Orem and its residents "to help tell the story of those that settled this community." (More Utah stories.)

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