History-rich cabin restored for rental news dailyprogress.com gas engine tom


The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club is introducing the latest addition of its family of rental cabins to the public Saturday, Nov. 6 at 1 p.m. The Rosser and Rosetta Lamb house was built around 1915. It stands just south of Pocosin Hollow, adjacent to Shenandoah National Park, near what locals call Entry Run. "Please come and see it," said Peg Manuel, a club member who has been who has been giving her time and energy to the project practically since its inception 14 years ago. "The farmhouse will give folks the feeling they have gone back in time, to a slower, quieter time, as though they have stepped back from the 21st century." The Lamb house is unique, "standing as a tribute to a mountain family living out the American dream in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia," according to "The Lamb Family House in Greene County: a History," by Ellen NicKenzie Lawson. In 1932, the Lamb property, along with some adjoining, was listed in the original survey of lands to be taken to make way for the Shenandoah National Park. Lawson suggested it was because the nation was in the midst of the Great Depression that the property and some others survived eminent domain. The government simply ran out of money with which to buy all but the most essential land at the top of the mountains, she writes in her book. As a result, descendents of the original occupants remained in the house until the 1960s, when Rosser and Rosetta Lamb sold the home to a man who may have used it as a hunting cabin before selling it again. In 1995, the owner willed 104 acres of forested land to the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, with the understanding that the old house would not be torn down. The club is responsible for the upkeep of the section of the Appalachian Trail that stretches along 240 miles, from 240 Pine Grove Furnace in Pennsylvania and to Rockfish Gap at the southern end of the park. That responsibility includes the restoration and upkeep of structures used to shelter hikers, and as rentals. By the time the club inherited the Lamb house, it had fallen into such disrepair that its real estate appraisal was zero. "Floods in the 1990s took out most of the foundation," said Manuel. "The siding was warped and a home for packrats. Vultures inhabited the attic. Guano lined the second floor ceilings. Floors and windows needed to be replaced." The home’s first occupants – Hiram Lamb, and his wife Lucy – were the illiterate parents of nine children in 1900 when they purchased 100 acres on Pocosin Mountain. At first, they lived in a cabin which "was probably like other mountain cabins, with four rooms at the most but more likely one room up and one down plus a kitchen," according to Lawson. Around 1915, Lamb and his son George set up a temporary sawmill on the property to build a new home, the book states. "The cabin would have been made of logs with mud daubed between, with earthen floors, one large fireplace holding logs three feet or longer, and a roof of boards, not shingles," Lawson wrote. "In such cabins people were born, married, held quilting bees, made molasses, raised barns, danced the Virginia reel, and were laid out in death." The new frame house, according to Lawson, was 16 feet by 30 feet with two rooms downstairs and two upstairs, with a metal roof. Outbuildings included a spring house, a chicken house, a meat house and a barn. Apple, cherry and plum trees formed an orchard, and the great majority of the surrounding timber was oak. After Hiram and Lucy, the home was occupied by George and his family, and then by George’s son Rosser and his wife Rosetta and their children in the 1920s. The restoration – which took a lot of work, done over a lot of years – started with just 15 people, according to Manuel. "We put in a new front yard, removed all the old siding and tried to level the building, but a lady here broke her fingernail, a lady there did something else. After a couple of years they abandoned the project," she said. But Manuel, a resident of the Lake of the Woods community in Orange, stuck with it, enlisting the aid of her neighbors. "In 1999 a group of singles from Lake of the Woods decided that the house would be a fine project for retirees who knew how to swing a hammer," she said. One of those neighbors was Park Anderson, a club member who considered the Lamb house a challenge. "The project was from the roof to the foundation and everything in between," he said. Manuel and Park would go on to direct the project, with help from club members, friends, and the community. "Southern Stone Contractors built the mantle and did tuck-pointing on the chimney for a cut rate price. Luck Stone donated half the stone for the project. Mountain Lumber Company gave a great price on oily pine for floorboards in the living room and upstairs hallway. Seventh-graders from Locust Grove Middle School in Orange planted chestnut trees provided by the American Chestnut Cooperators Foundation. The Lake of the Woods Church youth and men’s groups helped, as did the Lake of the Woods Boy Scouts, students from the Blue Ridge School and Liberty High School in Warrenton," Manuel said. The site was cleared of trash and debris and the house was leveled. It was given a new roof, new floors, paneling on the inside, and cedar siding on the outside. Tile was laid on the kitchen floor; cabinets and a big old farmhouse porcelain sink were installed. "Then the Rosser Lamb crew took some liberties with ‘renovating’ this house," said Manuel. "The upstairs ceilings were removed and windows added at the peak of the eaves to make the rooms less claustrophobic. We added handrails on the stairway, and installed a new fireplace. We rebuilt the front porch to match the one in an original picture, but we added a big deck and screened porch on the Entry Run side of the house." Manuel explained that while the deck and screened porch are bound to make renters more comfortable, especially during bug season, the house will still make people feel like they have stepped back from the 21st century. "We kept the feel of what it was like living in the mountains in the 1920s through the 1950s," Manuel explained. "There are no phones, no electricity, or running water." And now that the project is finished, Manuel is planning to step back into the 21st century. "I’m forming a tea party at Lake of the Woods," she said. And Anderson? "Whew," he said. Directions to the cabin: from Route 230 go north on South River Road for two miles, continue straight even though route numbers change. At the point the road becomes gravel, turn left on Pocosin Mountain Road, past a brick house on the left. Immediately past the brick house is a white fence surrounding a cemetery. Turn left just before that fence, go a mile down that road and end at the Rosser and Rosetta Lamb farmhouse.