Contractors Find Pioneer-Era 1800s Log Homestead Under Exterior of Modern Utah Home

TIMEDecember 4, 2021

An original hand-hewn homestead from the pioneer era was uncovered when demolition contractors pealed back the exterior of what was thought to be a modern bungalow in Orem, Utah.

The antique log house—featuring updates from the early- to mid-1900s—was last owned by the Shamadas, of Japanese decent, who once ran a fruit stand on the property; but even earlier, it was owned by the Hansons, a Swedish family—whose descendant Stan Hanson, 57, a sales rep from nearby Pleasant Grove, recalls driving by that cottage at 1400 Block and North State Street often.

“I noticed that they were tearing it down, and I knew that this was at one point my great-grandfather’s home,”  Stan told The Epoch Times of the recent work being done.

Epoch Times Photo
The log home with its updated siding and additions, which were added in the 1930s or 40s, according to Stan Hanson. (Courtesy of Stan Hanson)
Epoch Times Photo
A log homestead from the 1800s located at 1400 Block and State Street in Orem, Utah. (Courtesy of Stan Hanson)

“The property owners brought in a contractor to demolish this structure and prepare it for a new development,” he said. “They had exposed some rock, hand-hewed logs.”

Stan’s great-grandfather Carl Isaac Hanson built the home in the 1860s, Stan said, on a 160-acre parcel he homesteaded and farmed back in the days when settlers were still arriving in Utah.

Emigrating from Sweden along with his twin brother, Niels, Carl was a blacksmith who, along with his brother, horseshoed, fixed wagons, and ran their own blacksmith shop.

Epoch Times Photo
(Left) Carl Hanson and his twin brother pose in front of their blacksmith shop in a photo taken in the 1800s; (Right) Carl Isaac Hanson and his wife, who emigrated from Sweden and settled in Utah. (Courtesy of Stan Hanson)
Epoch Times Photo
A close-up of the log cabin shows hand-hewn logs, filled with chinking, and fitted joints built on a rock foundation. (Courtesy of Stan Hanson)

Stan surmises that Carl probably forged the very tools he used to build the cabin—which features hand-notched joints, a rock foundation, and plaster-based chinking filling the gaps between logs—and Stan still has the anvil Carl once used.

“Probably, that chinking has my great-grandfather’s handprints in it to this day,” Stan reckoned.

Decades later, in the 1930s or 40s, said Stan, Carl’s son gave the homestead a modernized facelift to accommodate his great-grandmother and her disabled daughter.

Looks (keeping up with the Joneses) probably also factored into the revamp.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Stan Hanson)
Epoch Times Photo
Detail of the log cabin and foundation with the “new” exterior removed. (Courtesy of Stan Hanson)
Epoch Times Photo
(Left) Carl Isaac Hanson (L) and his brother Niels; (Right) Stan’s great-grandma Mary from the 1890s or early-1900s. (Courtesy of Stan Hanson)

“At that point in time, living in a log cabin probably wasn’t cool,” Stan added. “My guess was my grandfather, as well as needing more space where they built rooms onto the place, wanted it to look more like a house from the 30s or the 40s.”

The “new” exterior enveloping the original, stout structure protected it from dampness and elements, Stan said, and would have helped preserve it over the decades that followed.

Now thought to be the oldest residential house in Orem, the previously slated-for-demolition abode is set to be relocated and restored, roof and all, by the city’s historical department as part of a new Orem Heritage Park development.

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Michael Wing
Editor and Writer
Michael Wing is a writer and editor based in Calgary, Canada, where he was born and educated in the arts. He writes mainly on culture, human interest, and trending news.