Historical Survey of Log Structures in Southern Appalachia
By Berea College Special Collections and Archives, Circa 1980
The first settlers in the Appalachian Mountain Regions emigrated from previously settled areas in the United States. Germans and Scotch-Irish from Pennsylvania, English from the Eastern sections of Virginia and the Carolinas, and Scandinavians from the Delaware Valley--all traveled further West and South to the rugged, isolated mountains of Appalachia. As they settled the area, these people retained elements of their distinct European heritage and altered their traditions to suit their environment (1). These traditions combined with each other in the mountains to produce the distinct culture of Appalachia.
Early Appalachian architecture is one form of folk art which exhibits the unique combination of German, Scotch-Irish, English, and Scandinavian cultures in the Southern Highlands. We begin by examining the elements common to all log structures. We can then appreciate the variety of ways in which these elements were combined to construct the house, the barn, and the outbuildings of the mountain homestead (2). Generalizations can be made, but there are few rules that apply to their construction and design. These structures are unique, as were the individuals who built them.