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Preserving One of the Oldest Buildings in Western Pennsylvania

November 10, 2021 12:00 AM

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​A graduate student thesis has determined an abandoned house in Forbes State Forest in Fayette County is one of the oldest buildings still standing in western Pennsylvania.

“For me and many others, it is a personal connection to the past that sparks interest in and support for preservation,” said Katherine Peresolak, RPA, who now has an M.A. in applied archaeology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

The building is known as the Carroll Cabin -- so named because of the long history of home and property ownership by the Carroll family and later descendants.

It is a hand-hewn log building with a northern plank frame addition.

Determining the Age of the Carroll Cabin

Building, forest, trees, cabin

One of the five research methodologies used included dendrochronology -- which involved extracting several borings of wood from the hand-hewn wall beams and the partially hewn log floor joists in the original portion of the house.

These dendrochronological results were beneficial for providing construction and likely renovation dates that pre-dated the available record.

Cabin, outdoors, forest, woods, nature, building, grass

A Cornell University’s tree-ring laboratory report indicated that the home was probably built circa 1775 with a possible cellar replacement or southward expansion circa 1810.

Documents revealed that the northern addition was built circa 1867.

The data established the Carroll Cabin as one of the oldest surviving log homes in Southwestern Pennsylvania -- one that has been standing now for 245 years!

First Step -- Cabin Stabilization

Outdoors, nature, cabin, wood, trees, cable

DCNR added the property with the cabin to Forbes State Forest in 2008.

DCNR Ranger Rogers Clawson was one of the primary advocates for research of the historic building and property, and seeing stabilization completed.

He built a successful partnership between DCNR and the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Work to stabilize the cabin was done by Forbes State Forest maintenance staff as a short-term but important step toward the long-term preservation and stability of the building.


DCNR patched the roof to keep water from penetrating the cabin, and removed a large tree which threatened the cabin. The Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps helped secure the cabin by installing plywood to board up the windows.

Continuing the Historic Preservation of a Frontier-Era Structure

Outdoors, building, nature, cabin, wood, trees

Progress has been made at the Carroll Cabin -- a superb example of what is possible when cooperation between agencies, researchers, and the public is successful.

Further work is necessary to ensure that this remnant of Pennsylvania’s Frontier-era past survives well into the future for later generations to both enjoy and to learn from.

The cabin was recently determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

The next step is to secure support that could underwrite its assessment, rehabilitation, and preservation.

For more information on assisting with the preservation or restoration of Carroll Cabin, contact District Forester Ed Callahan of Forbes State Forest.

Read more about the research work on the cabin in the Pennsylvania Heritage magazine.

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