Dreams Come True at 92Jim Garnett realizes dream of owning log cabin at age 92 by building Honest Abe Raleigh plan.
by Claudia Johnson, Honest Abe Marketing
At age 91 most people would be reluctant to launch a major project of any kind, let alone construction of a custom designed log home. But then most people aren’t Jim Garnett.
“He is a man that I will always cherish getting to know and work with on this house,” said Honest Abe Log Home dealer Mike Duncan, co-owner with Joe Workman of Fiddlebow Log Homes, builders of the Garnett home last year. “He’s a remarkable man now 92 years old and more active than most people 20 to 30 years younger.”
For instance, this unstoppable nonagenarian spent many days preparing for his November move-in by cutting ricks and ricks of firewood. He also scoured the area for the perfect rocks to enhance his floor-to-ceiling fireplace.
“Look at these,” Garnett said, picking up a variety of interesting stones from a pile of his favorites. “I think that working these into the manufactured stone will give the fireplace a three-dimensional look.”
Duncan said that Garnett was actively involved in each detail of design and construction. The approximately 1,500 square foot home is situated on a one-acre wooded lot attached to a Dalton, Kentucky, 240-acre farm owned by Bob and Eva Daves Tucker.
“Jim was partially raised by Eva’s family so he considers her like his sister,” Duncan explained, adding, “Both Jim and Eva were involved in the home design.”
The new log home is Garnett’s sixth custom house. Following his service in World War II, his 37-year career in the coal industry carried him and wife Mary, who passed away in autumn 2014, to numerous locations during their 67-year marriage.
Garnett said that after Mary’s passing the time seemed right to move from the Midwest to Kentucky, where, as a small child, he was taken in by Eva’s parents when the infirmity of the grandmother who was raising him threatened to leave him homeless. The Daves family provided Garnett with security, love and a place to call home more than 80 years ago, and in 2015 Eva asked him what it would take to bring him back to his home community .
“I said if I had a log cabin in the corner of the woods, I just might do it,” he laughed. “So Eva said she knew a man who builds log cabins.”
That man was Mike Duncan, who, like Eva, is a former educator. With a decade of building Honest Abe Log Homes in the southern Kentucky region, Duncan and Joe Workman were quickly able to help Garnett, who admitted he’s always wanted a log home, to launch his dream.
“They brought an Honest Abe catalog, and I started thumbing though it,” Garnett recalled. “I saw this Honest Abe Raleigh plan and said ‘hey, I like that front porch,’ and that started it. We just built from there.”
Workman, a former coal mine supervisor, handled all the construction duties, and in time, he and Garnett discovered they had worked for the same coal company, adding another layer of comfort to the project.
An experienced contractor with a goal of maximizing his clients’ resources, Workman saved every piece of unused interior siding or “scraps” of exterior logs. He used the siding to line all pantries and closets and the extra timbers to craft a covered porch over the back entrance.
The custom plan drawn by veteran Honest Abe Log Homes designer Melissa Copas features round logs, a shingle roof, interior log siding and a geothermal heating system. There are three bedrooms, but Garnett commandeered one as an office. The full basement has a double car garage and a large workroom.
A partial wall separates the living room from an open kitchen and dining room. Throughout construction, a large circle was drawn on the dining room floor and a rectangle drawn in a light-flooded alcove.
“That’s where my grandmother’s table and china cabinet will go,” Gannet said, referring to the woman who would have raised him if life had worked out differently. “We designed this room so those pieces would fit exactly.”
Once a tiny, homeless boy, Garnett seemed to find places where he fit exactly – with Eva’s family, in service to his country, in a fulfilling career, in a loving marriage and now in a home warmed by wood he cut himself.
See more photos of Mr. Jim’s home in Honest Abe Living Magazine.
Jim Garnett said he was very pleased with his choice of Superior Walls for his basement. The stain used was Perma-Chink’s Ultra-7 Oak, which Garnett said gave the Honest Abe D-logs the patina he had envisioned. He was particularly excited about the metal garage doors that look like wood and match the rustic feel of the all-wood home.
The Garnett home created from the Honest Abe Raleigh plan, above, features a full-length, wide front porch, a full basement with a two-car garage and work room, geothermal heating, a wood-burning fireplace and interior wood paneling. The back porch was fashioned from construction scraps by contractor and Honest Abe dealer Joe Workman, who along with partner Mike Duncan, worked with Mr. Garnett and Honest Abe designer Melissa Copas to customize Honest Abe’s Raleigh plan.
Involved in all aspects of his log home’s design and construction, Jim Garnett collected stones from his property to add interest to his fireplace and chimney.
The Garnett home’s open living area design allows for flow of heat from the fireplace throughout the living room, kitchen and dining area. The table, chairs and buffet, left, are cherished family heirlooms once belonging to Jim Garnett’s grandmother.