The log cabin in the park, a Cardington landmark, was brought to its present site in 1910 by then Mayor Henry Retter. It was built by Julius Linstedt in 1858, as his family residence on what is now State Route 529 just east of the Marion-Morrow County line.
Vacated by the family, Linstedt donated the cabin to the village to be used as a museum. The cabin was dismantled and its parts moved to the village by horses and wagons and reassembled in the park, which had taken the name of Retter Park, after the mayor.
Over 200 trees were planted in the park at that time. Through the years, repair and restoration took place at various times, some times more extensive than others but there was always the determination to keep the cabin. That determination became more firm when following the 1981 tornado which destroyed every tree in the park, left the log cabin practically untouched.
The little cabin became a sort of beacon of hope in the aftermath of the destruction wreaked on the village. With the weather and time taking its toll, the cabin’s restoration project was undertaken in 1997 by a team led by Patrick Drouhard, superintendent of the Cardington Schools and local historian, and Horace McClenathan, Cardington resident.
The cabin’s parts were meticulously and carefully removed and numbered before evaluation was made and replacement made as needed. Helping were several other volunteers on this project including John Stitzlein who donated their time in digging footers, building roof rafters, the front and back porches, windows, shingling the roofs and chinking the entire structure. The job was completed by June 30, 1999.
But alas, in the spring of 2015, with the porch roofs deteriorating requiring replacement, a crew led by volunteer Troy Ruehrmund tackled the job of once again replacing the porch sub-roofs and then re-shingling the main roof and porch roofs. Joined by many volunteers including Jim Clinger, who helped on the earlier project, the project was extended when it was noted the entire west sill log was rotted and would need replacing. A log on the southwest side also needed replacement. all of which presented a major challenge, as it would require the entire west side of the cabin to be lifted the sill log removed and then replaced.
Likewise, logs on the south side had to be lifted for a replacement to be made. Wrapping up the work the west porch floor structure was totally removed. Inside the cabin about two feet of flooring running the length of the cabin was removed so floor joists could be disconnected from the sill log and supported for reconstruction. Twenty ton jacks were placed under the north and south corners of the cabin allowing the cabin to be lifted, the rotted log removed and the newly hewed log put in its place. Following reattaching of the interior floor joists to the sill log, the porch was rebuilt. This project began in the spring of 2015 and was completed in November, 2015.
Volunteers completed all of this work and they included, in addition to those named, Sean Lorimer, Tom Johnson, John Nippert and Jeff Benson. Others donating their labor were Monty Maceyko, Alan Long, Cade Ruehrmund, Tess Ruehrmund, Tom Johnson, Jean Smith and Michelle Lorimer. Materials were funded by the Cardington Historical Society.
The cabin was first a museum filled with items donated by local residents and others that attracted many visitors including those traveling the passenger trains that stopped in Cardington to take on water. The cabin has served also as a meeting place for Boy Scouts and other groups and was a West Precinct voting place in the 1960’s. It was the site of ox roasts in the park in the 1950’s and 1960’s and has lately played a role in the Cardington Street Fair and Christmas in Cardington, from where stories are read to youngsters.
The most immediate descendant of the Mr. Linstedt, who built the original cabin, is Mrs. Harold (Geri) Ruth, a great granddaughter, who resides in Cardington. Her grandfather, Sam Linstedt was the son of Julius and the father of Geri’s mother, Edith Linstedt Kramer.
Newly renovated, the 158 year old cabin, stands tall as Cardington’s landmark, representing this village’s resilience and strength, thanks to many, many dedicated and determined volunteers.
In photo Pictured are some of the men who volunteered to help repair the log cabin in the park from left: Pat Drouhard, who guided the repair, Troy Ruehrmund, Jim Clinger, Sean Lorimer, Tom Johnson and John Nippert
More volunteers with log cabin repair from left: Monty Maceyko, Alan Long, Cade Ruehrmund,Troy Ruehrmund and Tess Ruehrmund, Tom Johnson and John Nippert