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Some days, it feels like the city is changing so rapidly, we can’t even keep up with it all, even after sitting at a computer day in and day out, taking in as much as we can and talking about it here. Years from now, we already know, we will look at the last ten years and the next ten years as being times filled with amazing change for Philadelphia — which is saying something for a city as steeped in history as this one is. But the only thing we worry about as far as Philadelphia goes — for, after all, have we not succeeded in spite of ourselves over these last 50 years? — is that, for all of the new energy that seems to abound here, we may be in danger of losing our Weird.

Then we think about this log cabin, on North Lawrence Street in Northern Liberties. Built in 1986 by artist Jeff Thomas, when NoLibs was so blighted out you could have built an entire block of log cabins if you wanted to and no one would notice, it currently stands as the city’s only log cabin. Now, granted, Philadelphia has never been in the running on any kind of “Wow, That Place Has A Lot Of Log Cabins” listicle (somebody ring up Forbes, they love running shit like this), you’d think we’d have at least a few running around. But we don’t. And then the one that we do have is only there because some freaked out artist in the ’80s was like, “Fuck it, I’m doing this BECAUSE I CAN.”

And really, that’s a big part of what we mean when we talk about Philly and its longstanding, beautiful weird. It’s not just the Lynch-ian other-ness of the Eraserhood or the Divine Lorraine — where blight somehow magically becomes beauty that is, all at once, daunting and inviting and challenging — it’s the blank spaces. The things that we don’t have. At the end of the day, we probably shouldn’t worry all that much: From the perch of the inbox and everything we see as we move about town, the Philly of tomorrow will have all kinds of stuff it doesn’t have today. But on the real: A few more log cabins certainly wouldn’t kill us.


  1. Rich Heller Says:

    I miss living on that block.

  2. Chuck Moore Says:

    I like the one log cabin…and the one covered bridge up on Forbidden Drive.

  3. Chuck Says:

    What, exactly, is the reason to think that Philadelphia, or any long-time highly urbanized area in the U.S., would have MULTIPLE log cabins, let alone any?

  4. philebrity Says:

    This is a very good question. But if you look on that Hidden City piece that is linked above, you’ll see that the area was once home to a few notable log cabins. I chalk this up to not necessarily Philly being a great place to build a log cabin (newsflash: it is not), and more to the fact that just about every architectural style is represented here in Philly — even if there are only a handful of examples of a particular style.

  5. Patrick Says:

    Probably the ugliest log cabin I’ve ever laid eyes on, but if it was some beautiful midwestern rustic woodsy shit where Justin Vernon wrote love songs in, it just wouldn’t be as weird, or Philadelphian. Seriously the pinkish grout/outer insulation whatever looks like the place is coated in some lumpy-ass dried pepto. I have to walk past this daily, the new plastic-covered condo behemoth next to it is just as nauseating.

  6. Maryellen Glackin Says:

    There is also a log cabin in Bustleton, 1900 block of Tremont Street. Not an original, but a log cabin nonetheless.

  7. Chuck Says:

    Well, if I read that article correctly, Grant’s Cabin was moved to Fairmount Park as a tourist attraction and eventually moved back to its original site, Appomattox Manor. Also, unless I am mistaken, the Stenton log cabin still exists in Stenton Park, so it would seem that the Northern Liberties log cabin is not the only log cabin in Philadelphia. As far as I can tell, the rest of the log cabins still stand but they happen to be outside the Philadelphia city limits. The author also neglected to mention the Morton Homestead in Prospect Park.

  8. Autumn Rose Says:

    Any idea if anyone lives here?

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