Quick Bits

A his­toric Florida fort gets a lit­tle re­for­ti­fi­ca­tion of its own, thanks to a New York log man­u­fac­turer.

Log Home Living - - CONTENTS - by Grif­fin Su­ber

• Re-cre­at­ing Fort King

• 21st Cen­tury Honey-Do List

When Jim Webb trav­eled from his home in Sher­burne, New York, to the Ro­tary Club in Ocala, Florida, he thought the trip was plea­sure, not busi­ness. As men do in those clubs, he con­versed with two fel­lows seated near him. It turns out they were both heav­ily in­volved in plan­ning for the restora­tion of Fort King, a na­tional his­toric land­mark lo­cated right there in Ocala. Jim, founder and pres­i­dent of Lok-n-Logs, ex­plained that al­though he’d been build­ing cus­tom log homes for the past 40 years, he got his start re­hab­bing forts in 1975. The men had a 40-acre site where Fort King once stood and planned to re­build it as his­tor­i­cally ac­cu­rate as pos­si­ble. “How big can you make those logs?” they asked. Jim replied, “How big do ya want ’em?”

Af­ter se­cur­ing the Fort King con­tract, Jim quickly learned that help­ing to re­build this 1830s struc­ture would re­quire quite a bit of do­ing. To be true to the orig­i­nal fortress, the logs would be bo­rate pres­sure­treated hand-scrubbed red pine and they’d stand 16 feet tall.

That’s where the chal­lenges be­gan.

Jim had to nav­i­gate the reg­u­la­tion mine­field of the lo­cal Parks and Recre­ation depart­ment. If you want a 16foot log to with­stand hur­ri­cane sea­son in Florida, it needs to be driven at least

4 feet into the ground. How­ever, in­tend­ing to pro­tect po­ten­tial fron­tier-era ar­ti­facts, an on­site ar­chae­ol­o­gist de­creed the logs would not be al­lowed to pen­e­trate the ground. Jim’s so­lu­tion was to pour a

1-foot deep “con­crete side­walk” perime­ter topped by a steel frame to which his team could se­cure the logs by fir­ing bolts into the base. This was about as his­tor­i­cally ac­cu­rate as the neon exit sign in the block­house, but it got the job done.

Ac­cord­ing to Jim, de­sign­ing a fort isn’t much dif­fer­ent from de­sign­ing some­one’s home; but it’s def­i­nitely eas­ier. “These de­signs are an­cient; they’re pretty straight for­ward. Plus, they don’t need to be lived in,” he ex­plains. But he finds pre­serv­ing our coun­try’s her­itage ev­ery bit as re­ward­ing as ful­fill­ing some­one’s life­long dream of log home own­er­ship. Jim and his team will re­turn to Ocala soon for Phase Two: The fort’s inte

rior struc­tures.

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