Log Cabin

Gift from Reily Adams

In the early 1800s, log cabins were numerous in the heavily wooded landscape of Indianapolis and central Indiana, though by the 1960s most had vanished. But not the 130-year-old cabin owned by museum trustee Reily Adams (who was married to one of museum founder Mary Stewart Carey’s granddaughters). Adams, who had bought the cabin and the land it sat on several years earlier from another museum trustee, William Rockwood, offered the aging structure to the museum—and Rockwood’s wife, Virginia, who was also a museum trustee, offered to pay to have it moved.

Transfer to the museum

The interior of the Log Cabin as it appeared in the Mysteries in History exhibit.

Unfortunately, the building experts the museum consulted said the only part of the cabin that could be salvaged was its main room—and that the only way to reassemble it safely once it was moved was to use modern building materials. Though that would diminish its historical value somewhat, museum officials agreed. In early 1961 the cabin was carefully disassembled—each log numbered to ensure it could be rebuilt correctly—and moved to the museum for installation.

Display at museum

Opening to the public in September 1961, the cabin became a popular stop for student groups interested in Hoosier history and remained so until it was taken off display in 2006 with the closing of the exhibit Mysteries in History. It remains part of the museum’s American collection and an enduring symbol of pioneer life in Indiana.

The exterior of the Log Cabin circa 1961.