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At home: Family transforms 1834 log cabin in Town and Country

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When Richie Scheidt was a young boy growing up in an old log cabin home in Town and Country, he learned some valuable skills helping his father, “Big Rich” Scheidt, maintain the character and history of the 1834 structure.

Little did he know that he would use those skills to help transform the home to 21st-century standards, a feat he called “very lucky” to do properly.

The elder Rich Scheidt and wife Joan bought the house in 1960 and soon embarked on their own task of creating a comfortable family home to the standards of the day. Among the updates were mending and painting rare grooved stucco in the living room and dining room; building custom window frames; and hand-sanding several coats of paint on ceiling beams down to their wood surface for staining and sealing.

Scheidt built custom bookcases to fit around the cabin’s original limestone fireplace. With the upstairs accessible only by ladder, he constructed a staircase, including custom-making each spindle himself. Not only that, he hand-dug an existing crawl space into a walkout basement, used to this day for storage and laundry.

“Big Rich” died in 2011 and his wife in 2013, and after Richie and his wife, Nancy Scheidt, bought out his sister’s share of the property, planning began in earnest on what would be an arduous renovation involving a crooked, 180-year-old foundation built on piers.

“Starting this project was exciting, knowing I was going to be a part of preserving a unique piece of history and because it was also my childhood home that my mother and father worked so hard to preserve,” Richie Scheidt said.

Nancy played a big part in the design, while Richie focused on its integration. The restoration started with removing wallpaper, painting, sanding, staining and the like. But the project hit a roadblock when the couple presented their expansion plan to an architect. He said it wouldn’t work, offering an alternative they rejected. A second architect didn’t pan out either, but a third “drew our plan beautifully,” Nancy said.

In the midst of starting his own construction company, Richie enlisted friend Jeff Gibson, and the two worked every weekend for eight months on the addition. Richie toiled evenings on the project after his day job.

“I was overwhelmed thinking about the hours and time it would take,” Richie said.

The addition comprises a walkout to an elevated deck with an expansive view of the sunset, wide hallway to a master bedroom and bath and stairs to a new family room in the lower level.

Nancy’s vision to duplicate an existing arched entry through the rear wall of the living room meant cutting through original logs, what she called a “bittersweet moment.” They kept the cut logs.

The addition “flows very nicely,” she said. “The new feels old, just like we wanted.” The work would take almost three years.

“There were times I wanted to give up, but the big picture kept me going,” Richie said. One of those frustrations included dealing with water leakage in the addition. Installing drain tile in the cabin’s crawl space required him “to dig this 12-foot-space, 2 feet deep on my belly. It seems to have worked.”

“Big Rich” died in the old home, but his son’s dream to refine it never did.

“This old house will always have its challenges, but thanks to my dad, they will be much less of an issue if he hadn’t done the work he did,” Richie said.

Amy Bertrand 314-340-8284

@abertrand on Twitter

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