Dykes Cabin

history-Dykes_Log_CabinHistoric Name: Dykes Log Cabin
Address: 17250 State Line Road
City: Kentwood
Parish: Tangipahoa
State: LA
Zipcode: 70444
Status: National Register
Date Placed on National Register: 9/12/2002
Level of Significance: Local
Area of Significance: Architecture
Property Type: Log House
Architectural Style: Other: Double Pen Log Cabin
Theme: Upland South Culture

The double pen Dykes Log Cabin (1830s) is located in a quite remote setting in extreme northern Tangipahoa Parish, less than a mile from the Mississippi state line. The nearest community is Osyka, Mississippi, about three miles away as the crow flies. The house is accessed from a roughly two mile dirt road that begins in Mississippi and then drops south into Louisiana. Despite deterioration (mainly to the front and rear porch) and some losses, the house easily conveys its early log construction.

The house is made of large squared-off (“dressed”) logs joined at the corners in a finely crafted square notch. The logs are typically 12-13 inches wide. Across the front and rear are ten-foot deep porches. Both are badly deteriorated, although most of their skinned pole rafters remain. The house rests on large pieces of wood and ironstone, as was typical. It is divided into two rooms via a plank wall one board thick. The gaps between the logs were covered on the front and rear with battens placed on the exterior (rather than the more typical interior). These battens have recently been removed. The side elevations are covered in clapboards held in place with square nails (the later indicating a date from before roughly 1880). Whether the treatment of the side elevations is original or an early alteration cannot be determined. Façade openings consist of a doorway and window for one room and a door for the other. The side elevations have windows flanking the chimney location (one to each side). A doorway is the only rear opening. The chimneys, presumably of mud and stick construction, are long gone. The windows give no evidence of ever having been fitted with window sashes, which makes one wonder how long the house has gone uninhabited.

The interior retains all of its original character except for the loss of one mantel. The very homemade-looking surviving mantel gives every indication of being original. Formed of multiple strips of wood held in place with small square head nails, it should be viewed as a frontier take on the Federal style. The ceiling of each room is finished in wide (12-13 inch) boards with exposed beams. In the back corner of one room, abutting the plank dividing wall, is a very narrow and very steep staircase to the attic. Enclosed with boards held in place with small square nails, it gives every appearance of being either original or very early. Logs continue above the ceiling level to form knee-walls in the attic. The attic, with its original exposed skinned pole rafters, is one large space.

Alterations to the house are as follows:

1) Both porches are severely deteriorated, with the one at the back being the worst. The rear porch was enclosed sometime before about 1880, typically as a family expanded and needed more room. All of this has been removed, as well as a twentieth century, ramshackle ell wing. The wing’s framing at the roof remains.
2) The battens have been removed from the front and rear.
3) The chimneys are gone, as is one mantel.
4) A vandal used a chain saw to remove several feet of one log on the rear.
5) No doors survive. There is a shutter remnant on one window. Its date cannot be determined.
6) Some of the clapboards are missing from the side elevations.
Assessment of Integrity:

While the Dykes House at first glance looks in bad shape, the deterioration seems to be confined entirely to the front and rear porches. The log walls and all other materials are in very good condition, particularly considering the house’s age and the fact that it has been abandoned for some time. Even with the deterioration and losses, what is more remarkable for this type of building is that so much of the original fabric and character survive. As an early and rare survivor to represent the region’s pioneer architecture, the house is most worthy of preservation and eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

SIGNIFICANT DATE: c. 1835

ARCHITECT/BUILDER: Unknown

CRITERION: C

The Dykes Log Cabin is of local significance within the Florida Parishes as a rare surviving example of domestic log construction. As such it exemplifies the folk architectural tradition of the Upland South farmers who dominated early settlement in northern Louisiana, sections of the Florida Parishes, and areas of west-central Louisiana.

Tangipahoa Parish is one of the eight so-called Florida parishes – that portion of Louisiana east of the Mississippi and north of Lake Pontchartrain. Unlike much of southern Louisiana, this area, generally speaking, was settled by American immigrants from the southeastern states rather than French Creoles. Those parishes on or near the Mississippi (East and West Baton Rouge and East and West Feliciana) were dominated by plantation agriculture, with settlement beginning in earnest in the early 1800s. By contrast, settlers from the Upland South, with their small farms and log construction, dominated early settlement in other parishes or sections of parishes. Today, log construction in the Florida Parishes is most closely associated with Washington Parish, which has the most surviving examples. Examples also exist, or have been known to exist, in St. Helena and certain parts of Tangipahoa and St. Tammany.

Upland South settlers, the only pioneer group to consider log buildings the norm for a permanent dwelling, built single pens, double pens, and the very popular dogtrot, not to mention log dependencies of all types. Given the settlement patterns of the Florida Parishes it is clear that log houses were once quite common in the areas mentioned above. In short, they were the standard housing. But what was once common is today indeed quite rare. Survey records and LA SHPO staff knowledge indicate that less than 20 log houses survive in the region, and very few of them are in their original location. The Dykes Cabin depicts, as very few others can, another “signature” of the Upland South culture – that of disbursed settlement, with a cabin being located deep in the country, with the nearest neighbor typically at some distance. It is also important as a very early log house within the region and one with the additional “refinement” of a homemade mantel that makes an attempt at architectural styling.

Historical Note:

The history of the Dykes cabin is yet to be documented. According to oral tradition, it was built by a Dr. Ford and acquired by Oscar Dykes prior to the Civil War. The Dykes family lived there until sometime around the turn of the twentieth century, when the cabin was acquired by the Bacot family, in whose hands it remains.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Historic structures surveys for Florida Parishes (on file in Louisiana State Historic Preservation Office) combined with LA SHPO staff knowledge of region.