Historians in Independence rally for preservation of pre-Civil War era cabin

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Some say its a local treasure. Others think of the Pioneer Spring Cabin in Independence as an eyesore since its fallen into disrepair over the years.

Local history buffs are trying to guard the cabin from relocation, or perhaps, the wrecking ball.

Its roots date back to the early 1800s, but the Pioneer Spring Cabin is a hot topic in Independence right now. That historical site, which sits near the city's downtown, represents the early days of metro history. It has stood on Dodgion Street since it was moved there in the 1970's.

However, many of the cabin's logs are rotting, and there are numerous cracks in the structure, some of which are large enough to allow light to shine through.

Members of the Independence City Council, including council member Curt Dougherty, have been quoted saying the cabin is too far gone and not worth restoring, at least not at this location.

"We think the cabin still has life," Brian Snyder told FOX4 on Monday.

He and his wife, Sharon Snyder, said the cabin needs to stay put, and it's worth investing in the face-lift. Brian, a retired structural engineer, is also a former board member with the Jackson County Historical Society. The Snyders, who manage the nearby Owens-McCoy House, said these small wood cabins, which were plentiful in the pioneer days, represent the blue collar families in our region.

Pioneer Spring Cabin

"We have this series of landmarks the city wants to protect," Brian Snyder said. "It was very common, even in the pioneer days, that you would maintain your log cabin by restoring the chinking between the logs. You would replace logs. That wasn't uncommon to do."

A city spokesperson told FOX4 the cabin was recently deemed structurally unsound, and it would cost between $150,000-$400,000 to restore it at its present site or to spruce it up after moving it to a nearby museum. The $400,000 total would also including payroll for staff members at the cabin and funding for programming. That same spokesperson said Dougherty was out of town Monday and unavailable for comment.

"Our citizens of Independence have so sense of ownership when the city keeps taking away our landmarks that provide an educational opportunity and a tourist attraction," Sharon Snyder said.

On Monday morning, the cabin had a strong flow of visitors coming to judge the cabin's condition for themselves. Several of those patrons complained about a proposal to move a monument that had grown familiar over their respective lifetimes.

City council member Karen Deluccie, a second-term representative who serves the city at-large, disagrees with Dougherty, saying she wants to see the cabin brought up to code.

"This city is full of citizens who love history and value history. I'm hoping those citizens come forward and rally around and save this cabin. I really want to save the cabin," Deluccie said.

Deluccie said the cabin should have never reached this sad state, and the city dropped the ball by not taking care of it all along. The Snyders said the worst outcome would be getting rid of it altogether, and the history here is too precious to lose.

The city plans a pair of public meetings concerning the cabin's future. The first of those sessions is Thursday at 6 p.m. where the council will listed to the public's ideas concerning the old landmark. A second meeting is coming up on Aug.11.

An online petition, which was started last week, has already gathered 400 signatures in favor of restoring the cabin and keeping it at its present location.