Utah town rallies to save 1880s log cabin found hidden inside walls of a modern home

A crew demolishing a 20th-century home in Utah discovered something strange inside it: Another house.

Turns out the rather plain home had been wrapped around an equally plain log cabin that dates to the 1880s, experts say. That’s before Utah became a state (in 1896).

Realizing the historic significance, the crew halted work and the city has stepped up to save the home, which sits wedged between commercial buildings.

“The 1880s cabin is prepped and ready to be moved,” Orem officials announced Dec. 23.

The discovery was made the first week of November by contractor Bill Fairbanks, who posted photos of the find on Facebook.

“The move will take place next week (Dec 27-31). Our intent is to ultimately place this cabin at our new Heritage Park … to help tell the story of those that settled this community.”

Heritage Park is about 3 miles south of the home’s current location. The park is still two years from being completed. However, city officials jumped at the chance to get the cabin when its owners, the Shimada family, offered to donate it.

The discovery was made the first week of November by contractor Bill Fairbanks, who posted photos of the find on a community Facebook page called “You know you’re from Orem UT if….”

“We’d heard that supposedly there was a cabin in the house,” Fairbanks told the Daily Herald. “We started pulling the house apart and chipped away at the walls. We peeled layer by layer.”

Fairbanks described the discovery as an “almost whole, 1881 pioneer cabin … still sitting on its rock foundation!”

The cabin is believed to have been built by a pioneer couple known as the Hansons, he said. Years later, the Shimada family bought the land and ran a fruit stand on it, reported TV station KUTV.

Orem Town Manager Steven Downs says the home, which about 550-square-feet, dates to a time when the area “was a lot of orchards and multiple cabins,” KSL-TV reported.

“This is the home of the Hansons, but this represents the home of so many who homesteaded this property and began the legacy of hard work and entrepreneurship,” Downs told the station.

Photos shared by Orem officials show the roof had been removed as part of the demolition work, so crews rushed to add tarps “to preserve the inside of the cabin.”

City officials did not give specifics for when work will begin on the home’s restoration.

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