Log cabin's history missing some chapters

A log cabin on NW 23rd Drive is shown June 19. Its origins are uncertain.

Aaron Daye/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Sunday, July 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, July 1, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

The tiny log cabin sits tucked beside a big white house on NW 23rd Drive, just off W. University Avenue, almost obscured by trees.

Sharon Haughton spotted it on a drive through the neighborhood, and was intrigued.

"That little log cabin just looked so out of place on that street," Haughton, 59, wrote to Since You Asked. "I was on a little adventure with my grandchildren, and I remember making up stories about it, telling them, I'll bet someone like Daniel Boone lived here a long time ago.' Do you have any information about the age of the cabin, the family who built it or its history?"

John D. Fox, the current owner of the big white house and the accompanying cabin, said the main house was built in 1929, a few years after the Palm Terrace neighborhood was established in 1925.

When Fox's parents bought the big white house from a University of Florida ROTC colonel for $7,800 in 1940, the tiny log cabin came with it.

Fox said the colonel didn't build the cabin. And about five years ago, he received a visit from two women who lived in the house before the colonel. They said they didn't build it, either.

He said though he wasn't sure who first built the cabin, it played an important part in his childhood.

Fox was 10 when his parents moved into the house.

Fox's sisters got bedrooms in the main house, and Fox got to live in the log cabin until he left for boarding school five years later.

"It was my little empire," Fox said. "There's a little fireplace inside, and I used to build fires in there. It was all mine, and I loved it."

Fox's parents lived in the house for decades, and left it to him and his sister when they died. Fox moved back to Gainesville and into the house full-time last year, and now uses the log cabin to store everything from odds and ends to Christmas gifts.

Haughton said she was happy to learn that the house that sparked her imagination years ago has an interesting history in Fox's family.

"I have a girlfriend who grew up in that neighborhood who now lives in D.C.," Haughton said. "When I first noticed the cabin, I e-mailed her a picture of it, and she said, 'I've never seen that in my life.' It's tucked so far back there, you can barely even see it from the road. It's kind of a Gainesville secret."

Amy Reinink can be reached at 352-374-5088 or reinina@gvillesun.com.

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