Saving Log Home Launched Whitehouse Historical Society

The Whitehouse Historical Society presented (from left) Louella Rupp, Louise Stedman and Bud Bauman with honorary lifetime memberships last week. The three were instrumental in the restoration of the log home that sits at the corner of Providence, Shepler and Texas streets. The home will be open on Saturday, June 10 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during Cherry Fest. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Louise Stedman may have been a “foreigner” when she moved to Obee Road from Toledo in the 1960s, but she laid the groundwork for what became the Whitehouse Historical Society.

“It started when they found the log house,” recalled Stedman, who joined Whitehouse natives Bud Bauman and Louella (Ryerson) Rupp last weekend outside what is now a landmark in the village.

In 1969, the old George Dunn home and garage –where First Federal of Delta now stands – were scheduled for demolition to make way for a gas station. The bulldozer operator bumped the corner of the garage with his bucket, expecting it to collapse. 

“His bulldozer bounced back,” Stedman said. So, the man pulled off a piece of siding and discovered squared logs underneath. He then called Standard Oil, which called the village to ask if anyone wanted the building. The village leaders asked the Whitehouse Business Association for help.

Soon, a team a volunteers coalesced to get the log home moved across the street to vacant village-owned land, and even more volunteers spent the next several years restoring the home to reflect an accurate representation of life in the 1840s, using research from the Ohio Historical Society, donated antiques and a lot of elbow grease.

Bauman and Rupp, who remembered the old log home as a garage – as well as several Whitehouse businesses from the 1930s on – while growing up in the downtown area, joined the WHS soon after.

On June 3, WHS president Nancy Bucher honored the three with honorary lifetime memberships – something bestowed on only two others during the 50-year span of the WHS.

Without Stedman and the late Barb Robertson coordinating a lot of that early work on the log home, the WHS may never have been launched, Bucher said.

“Louella is a very special member … the stories she has about Whitehouse are priceless, and if you have a question about Whitehouse, Bud is the go-to guy,” Bucher added.

Nancy’s father, the late Orville Bucher, came in a few years after the log home project was finished, and really took the nonprofit organization to new levels, Stedman said. Orville and the late Lois Wind are the only other two members to have been honored with this lifetime membership.

The 2018 WHS book I Hear Tell … contains an article by longtime member Craig Nilsson outlining the history of the log home. His research shows that the log house was built in the 1840s for Henry Davis on a farm that is now the grounds for Whitehouse Primary School. It was later moved diagonally across the street. Not a log cabin – which has rounded logs and overlapping corners for a quick shelter – the home had two floors and was built to be a permanent shelter.

By 1924, it had siding, front porches and a kitchen, according to the late Laura Miller Clauson, a member of the last family to live in the home. During its later years, the structure was used as a garage, with a large door cut into one side.

As the volunteers got to work restoring the home, a large stone fireplace was put in to fill that garage door hole, the home was chinked and reroofed, and a new floor, windows and shutters were installed.

“From house, to garage, to museum, it is American frugality and adaptability and connection to our past on display for anyone who passes by,” Nilsson wrote of the home.

To support the WHS and maintaining the log home, volunteers held fundraisers, like the Trash and Treasures market and an Olde Time Festival, where artisans demonstrated 1800s skills and local musicians and dancers entertained. Raffles, sales and running the farmers’ markets were also fundraising opportunities to support the home.

While volunteers would staff open houses throughout the year, it was quickly determined the the best time to be open was during other downtown events that drew a crowd, like Halloween, Christmas and Cherry Fest, Rupp said. The log home is also a focal point for Whitehouse second-graders to come learn about pioneer life each fall.

“Louella would come up here in her costume and the kids thought that she lived here,” Bucher laughed. 

Rupp and Bauman did practically live near the log home, and the two shared many of their memories about the people who lived and worked in the downtown area in an article they wrote in the July 2020 book I Hear Tell, Too! The book contains numerous articles submitted by WHS members and friends.

“My grandfather (George Ryerson) had a blacksmith shop next to it,” Rupp said of the log home. She had a paper route in the downtown area and got to know many of the business members.

So did Bauman, whose Whitehouse Motors still remains an unofficial hub of historical information and photos. In 2017, Bauman – along with Mike Vanderpool and Ryann Miller – created a video detailing those downtown businesses. Proceeds from DVD sales were given to the WHS.

Whether new to the area or a longtime resident, Bucher encourages the community to stop by the log home on Saturday, June 10 during the Whitehouse Cherry Festival. The home will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Guests can see the first floor, which has period furniture, as well as the second floor, which has memorabilia from the history of Whitehouse and the Maumee Valley.

Memberships and copies of the two books – along with several other books on Whitehouse history – will be available for sale to support continued maintenance and restoration of the log home.

The log house is located at the corner of Providence, Shepler and Texas streets in Whitehouse, Ohio.

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