Log Home Dream Adjusted for a New Reality
by Rick Denton, Retired President, Honest Abe Log Homes
David Denton is my 49-year-old son. He celebrates his 50th birthday this year. His log home sits on our family farm, next to mine and his sisters’. The three log homes comprise our little family complex. My wife, Wanda, and I always wanted our children close. We have certainly been blessed having our children and grandchildren next door. And, we have all enjoyed living in our log homes, forty years for Wanda and I. Life has been full for us, and our family and our log homes have been a major part of it.
All three log homes have been family do-it-yourself projects. It’s how we wanted it. We worked tirelessly together on them. Today, we have a lifetime of memories linked to our three-log-home family complex on our little farm in Moss, Tennessee, close to the Honest Abe Log Home business complex where I spent my career.
The photos accompanying this article are recent photos of his 21 year old log home. The log home itself looks almost exactly like it did when newly built back in 1999. However, a book could be written about what the logs have witnessed over their 21 years if they were humans. Dave has quite a story. His life journey has not been what Wanda and I envisioned for him after his birth, childhood, and early adult years.
Dave married his high school sweetheart right after he completed college. Although he wanted a career with Honest Abe Log Homes, things did not work out in that direction. He and his wife settled into a new conventional home and successful jobs nearby in Cookeville, TN.
Two years later, he suffered a tragic and life-changing motorcycle wreck on Dec. 15, 1995, leaving him handicapped with a traumatic brain injury and also some physical disabilities. It’s a remarkable miracle of God that he is alive today, having died at the wreck scene, revived there, life-flighted to a trauma hospital, staying in a coma for months and enduring two years of acute rehab to re-learn everything all over again: how to breathe, set up, eat, swallow, walk, use the bathroom, talk and everything else he’d learned already from his birth and childhood days. He had his family with him 24/7 through all this.
He had badly wanted to build a log home before his wreck. He’d worked summers for Honest Abe and fell in love with log homes. We were jointly building a log home rental in Gatlinburg, Tennessee when he wrecked. Four years to the day from the day he wrecked, he and his wife moved into their new Honest Abe log home.
Our family and his wife’s family decided to undertake the project of building them a log home near us in Moss, Tennessee. That way both families could share in helping them with anything they needed. However, his wife left him in 2004. Living alone in his large log home was too much for him in his handicapped condition. Wanda and I moved in with him after he badly broke his ankle in a fall down the basement steps. We stayed a couple of years, then built an assisted living apartment attached to our log home, in which he lives today. Our second child, Dave’s other sister, rents his log home today as she makes some changes in her life.
Log homes may not appeal to everyone. I certainly learned that in my career, having heard the majority of the national home market express this. However, for those that do like log homes, like my son, Dave, they are unique, one-of-a-kind homes. Because we heard this so often, the marketing team at Honest Abe chose a slogan reflecting this, “It’s what you always wanted.” We heard this so often from log home prospects like my son, Dave.
Dave is unable to remember lots of things today due to his brain injury. However, any topic related to log homes brings a gleam or sparkle to his eyes and he launches into a conversation about the unique and distinctive feelings of living in a log home. He loves to talk about the details of kiln drying and manufacturing the pre-cut and numbered logs and their unique features that result in a distinctive, one-of-a-kind home.
Although he no longer lives in his beautiful dream log home, his assisted living apartment is completely “log-homey” in feel and decor style. He loves it almost as much as this 1999 log home built for him. He loves to talk with anyone about his love of log homes, his building experience with his own log home and his summers working for Honest Abe Log Homes.
Truly, it was what he always wanted!
The eagle, a family’s emblem
those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:31
As soon as we got to the Chattanooga Trauma Emergency room after Dave’s wreck, the team of doctors working on Dave told us they could do nothing for him. The head neurologist called me aside and told me to prepare everyone for Dave’s death. His brain stem had been sheared off and numerous other tears were all over his brain. He said Dave’s brain had bounced around inside his skull, essentially making it impossible for the brain to tell his body to function.
We did not know what to do except to appeal to the Lord for a miracle. The doctor and nurse staff had, it seemed to us, given up. We immediately began praying. Our church family went into prayer. Person after person called their family, friends and church bodies.
Read the story of the eagle painting
Honest Abe Log Homes created the floor plan for the David Denton cabin. The home was manufactured by Honest Abe, where Dave’s father Rick, was the president for three decades. The home is constructed of Eastern White Pine D-Logs with a butt-and-pass corner style. A portion of the interior has a heavy-timber roof system with exposed beams. There’s a screened-in porch to the rear that overlooks the Tennessee Highland Rim. The photos on this page were taken in 2020, some 21 years after the cabin was constructed.
In January 2002, Country’s Best Log Homes featured Dave’s home in their national magazine with photos taken by Roger Wade, styling by Debra Grahl and an article written by Donna Pizzi describing the log home and the experience in building it.