City of Montgomery, Sam Houston State University work to preserve historical cabin

Docent Eva Rains stands by the cabin of her ancestors, Crane Cabin. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Docent Eva Rains stands by the cabin of her ancestors, Crane Cabin. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)

Docent Eva Rains stands by the cabin of her ancestors, Crane Cabin. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)

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Crane Cabin was built in 1867 by Nickolas Crane and his wife, Mary Ann Havard, in Angeline County, Alabama. It will soon undergo restoration. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
For someone driving along Clepper Drive in Montgomery, Fernland Historical Park may seem like an odd collection of old houses. But city officials and docents, people who act as guides in museums or other historical sites, said the park has a rich history that the city of Montgomery is now working on preserving.

Founded in 2012, Fernland Park is home to four pioneer-era cabins that were relocated and restored by preservation architect Carroll Tharp and his wife, Mae Tharp, docent Eva Rains said.

“They just loved buying and restoring old houses and log cabins,” Rains said.

Rains said concentrated effort between the Tharps, local historical groups, the city of Montgomery and Sam Houston State University led to the creation of Fernland Park, where the public can learn about the historical value of the cabins.

On July 9, Montgomery and Sam Houston made an agreement to restore several logs on the Crane Cabin, which was originally built in 1867 by Nickolas Crane, a Civil War veteran of the Confederate army.

Mike Muckleroy, the director of public works for the city of Montgomery, said the board of the park reached out to the city about the logs several years ago. The city originally looked at a private contractor that would replace the logs for about $21,000, but Muckleroy said Sam Houston was able to recommend another contractor who agreed to do the work for about $7,500.

Muckleroy said the repairs were needed due to the natural aging process of the cabin, not any accident.

“A lot of it has to do with the fact that [the wall is] on the north side of the house. On the north side of the building is typically where you get all your moisture; it’s where your mildew grows and such,” Muckleroy said. “But once these logs start this rotting process, it gets accelerated pretty quickly.”

The new logs should be in place by the end of 2019, he said. Although the contract covers work through February, Muckleroy said this is just a precaution in case Montgomery experiences severe winter weather.

The repairs have a particular importance to Rains, as she is a descendant of the Cranes. In fact, her mother and her cousin Pearl Havard played in the cabin as children.

“I started investigating, and I was able to get a lot of information from the university in Huntsville, and the rest is history. I mean, it was already historical,” Rains said.
By Andy Li

Originally from Boone, North Carolina, Andy Li is a graduate of East Carolina University with degrees in Communication with a concentration in journalism and Political Science. While in school, he worked as a performing arts reporter, news, arts and copy editor and a columnist at the campus newspaper, The East Carolinian. He also had the privilege to work with NPR’s Next Generation Radio, a project for student journalists exploring radio news. Moving to Houston in May 2019, he now covers the Conroe Independent School District, Montgomery City Council and transportation.


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