I was recently introduced to a man named Kevin Thomas (aka) The Log Whisperer who restores and builds log cabins..He has an amazing talent in the art of restoring these bits of history. An art form as I see it and it fits well on my blog. These cabins have a history and a life of their own. So I recently interviewed him and here is that interview.
1. First I would like my readers to know Kevin Thomas the man. Can you share a little of your background ?
I am the second of three kids. I Started helping my dad at a young age ( Around 6) in his antique business and that’s where I got my love for hard work and old things. As I grew I always tried to learn from older folks and old ways.
2. When did your interest begin in log cabins and how did you get started ?
I have always loved them too . My dad grew up in one and had a real passion for them and decided we would build one in 1980 and spent 5 years building it in our spare time. We really looked forward to working on it and about the time we got it finished a fellow had seen it and asked if we could build him one. We really didn’t have to talk about it for long before we said yes. It got a lot of attention my dad’s beard and mountain man look went with the trade and you might say I was still following in his footsteps.
3. I have always loved the log cabins, they have character and great history. What do Log homes mean to you ?
Oh man ???? Its history , art, simplicity all mixed together and since dad passed I am very sentimental about them.
4. How long have you been building and restoring log cabin ?
It seems like all my life but we started in 1980 and trading in it full time in 85.
5. Have you traveled many places looking at old cabins and also how far have you traveled to work on them ?
We have traveled extensively over the years. NC. VA, Tenn and Kentucky .The older I get I prefer to go home every day but would not rule out travel if I felt like it was a project I was called to do.
6. I am sure you have learned a lot of history working on cabin restoring, so what are a few of the most interesting things you have learned about the history of some of these cabins ?
I think I have learned from each and everyone of them. The techniques were different and varied from geographical area and the influence of there genealogy but there were also many similarities . Some of the later ones weren’t quite as primitive as the early ones . I guess as tools and economics improved. One thing I’ve noticed was how the history of my buildings I restored, they seemed to intertwine and their paths seem to cross historically
7. What is one of the oldest cabins you have worked on ?
The earliest ones are in the Moravian Village of Bethania NC and date back to the 18th century. I have worked on several of the log houses there , most of them more than once including The Hoosier House featured in the UNC- TV documentary , Saving The Hanson House. But I consider all my historical restorations sacred and important. Rather a regular barn or a huge well maintained structure visited by folks like , Andrew Jackson or General Cornwallis.
8. How do you feel personally about log home living ?
Lived in one most of my life now and cant imagine not having one. The peace you feel coming home to a cozy cabin cant be described and truly has to be experienced .There is a huge downsizing going on in America today and I like to remind folks that the log cabin was the country’s first ‘Tiny house.”
9. What inspires your designs for building and restoring cabins ? Is it the history and the people that have lived in them or the craftsmen that built them ?
My historical jobs I try to find out as much as I can about the people that built and lived there through the years and incorporate as much of their persona as possible . The new ones I designed aren’t much different. At the end of the job I want my client to feel like ” They are finally Home” . I also enjoyed the ones that turn out great and the folks tell me,” We love your ideas and designs,” and they turn me loose. The feeling of watching one I have” Whispered ” grow out of the ground is indescribable.
10. How far do you travel to work ?
I Have been 1 1/2 hours south of Nashville with my dad and accessed one as far as Kentucky. Over the years 2 1/2 hours commute vs. Staying the week has been more the norm than the exception.
11. What other things do you do in your spare time besides building and restoring Log Cabins ?
I grew up a workaholic and my mind is never far from it but I do have other interest that has varied over the years. After being called to the ministry a few years ago I enjoy serving in True Word Prison Ministry and hold a blue card with the State. Wood carving is a renewed passion specializing in traditional dough bowls , adzed by hand the old way and one recently won first place in a competition I also enjoy writing poems and posting history and folklore on The Log Whisperer at Old Log Houses by Thomas Face Book page where I have been blessed with 27000 followers , that has received a lot of support from a upcoming book project to Log Whisperer Tee shirts.
I want to thank Bro Thomas (aka) The Log Whisperer, for sharing his art and craftsmanship for preserving the past. Also for bringing the past back to life with his work. Truly amazing talent
If you would like to learn more, his links and contact information will be posted below.
I would like to also give a special thanks to friend Walter Adams for introducing me to Kevin Thomas.