By Carol Cowan
When folklore legend and lumberjack Paul Bunyan explored the American frontier, he may not have known the impact his occupation would have on Tennessee’s housing market. An upward trend in log homes in Tennessee indicates that residents of the Volunteer State are paying attention to the beauty – and benefits – of a log home.
Dr. Adam Taylor is an assistant professor and forest products extension specialist in Forestry, Wildlife & Fisheries at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. According to Taylor, many people choose a log home because there is something aesthetic they like about it. With a log home, the wood is visible, contributing to a rugged image or lifestyle.
“Part of the image is the rustic frontier, the get-away-from-it-all. Log homes fit with that,” Taylor says.
A wood specialist, Taylor points out that wood is definitely an environmentally friendly building material. “It is durable, affordable, plentiful and renewable,” he says, noting that almost all homes are built with wood, but people go back to log homes because of the spirit they represent. “There is a pretty sizable industry in the state of Tennessee,” Taylor says. “We are kind of the center of the log home industry.”
A leading manufacturer in the log home industry nationwide, Honest Abe Log Homes Inc., headquartered in Moss, has operated in Tennessee for three decades. Joshua Beasley, spokesman for the company, believes that many Tennesseans choose log homes because they are connected to tradition.
“We are proud of our heritage and connected to our natural surroundings, whether that be the timber-filled mountains of east Tennessee or the beautiful farming country in the western part of the state,” Beasley says. “Being connected to one’s heritage and enjoying nature is what ‘log home living’ is all about.”
Tennessee-based Honest Abe also provides a local connection for log homeowners, who frequently research the market for years before building a log home. For many, says Beasley, owning a log home is a lifelong dream.
That was just the case with Janet and Grady Wilson, who have enjoyed their log home in Crossville for three years. The Wilsons decided years ago that owning a log home would be a dream come true. Janet Wilson said they chose Honest Abe because of the Tennessee connection. “We thought that it would be good to get someone local,” she says. “They were absolutely tremendous.”
According to Beasley, a log home built of Eastern white pine, a fast-growing, naturally sustainable pine, is more energy efficient than conventional homes. “Most log home owners can attest to that experience, and they tell their friends and neighbors,” he says.
And the neighbors are clearly enjoying the Wilsons’ log home. The first fall they were in the house, more than 300 people came by for a local tour of homes.
But Wilson most loves her home when it is filled with family. She and her husband have two children and eight grandchildren who, she says, feel like they’re at a resort when they visit for holidays; when they all come home there’s room for everyone. She also notes that her son and daughter were in on the design and decoration of the home, which features an outdoor feel – even inside. “It’s just so welcoming,” she says of the logs, the use of glass and the fireplaces in the house. “It’s very, very nice.”
Wilson believes her family loves it there as well. “When they come here, they don’t worry about going anywhere else,” she says.