Small Town Uncovers Big Surprise

Just a stone’s throw from the I-69 in Huntington County, the small town of Markle has long been known as a mecca for antiques shoppers. Recently, residents were surprised to discover they’ve had an architectural antique – a genuine early settler’s log home – hiding in plain sight for decades.

Draper Log Cabin, Markle

Undercover Landmark

Last fall, a contractor prepping a non-descript old house in Markle for demolition discovered hand-hewn logs under layers of siding. Quick research by members of the local historical society determined that the sturdy structure had been erected in 1835 by Albert Draper, who came to the area to set up a milling operation along the Wabash River.

Over the next 180 years, subsequent owners sheathed the log cabin in modern siding and built several blocky additions. Some folks had heard rumors the house might be a log cabin, but nothing inside or out supported the story. Town officials order demolition of the deteriorated structure. Even after the home’s unique provenance was revealed, the property owner wanted the structure removed.

Draper Log Cabin, Markle

No one guessed that this Markle house was actually a pioneer-era log cabin hidden under layers of siding.

With the building still in jeopardy, Markle Historical Society member Lisa Street contacted Indiana Landmarks for help. Paul Hayden, director of our Northeast Field Office, the historical society developed a plan for saving the Draper home. They raised money to buy the house, and in early February crews moved the house to a new site in Mill Park. The Markle Historical Society will interpret the historical significance of the house on a large, undeveloped site that suggests the rural appearance at the time the house was built.

The original log house is in good condition. A late nineteenth-century photograph shows the home was covered in then-fashionable Victorian board-and-batten siding, which helped preserve the original logs. Draper white washed the logs to brighten the interior (the walls were later plastered). The original chinking, finely hewn logs and carefully notched corners all speak of Draper’s skill in building his tidy home with only a few simple tools.

Draper cabin circa 1908

A historic photo shows the Draper cabin around 1908, when it was owned by the Clinger family.

Indiana Landmarks also advised the society on listing the log cabin in the National Register of Historic Places.

To learn more about the Markle Historical Society’s efforts to save the Draper Log Home, check out the society’s Facebook page.

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