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Preservationists seek to save old Jackson cabin
Jackson, Wyo. • The Teton County Historic Preservation Board is working with the town to save a historic cabin — once a home on Town Square — from demolition.
There's a narrow window for success and no room for delay, those close to the project say. A pending land sale due to close on Aug. 26 is conditional on the cabin's removal or destruction by this Friday.
The Mercer family sold an East Broadway property to Chabad-Lubavitch of Wyoming, which plans to build a synagogue there.
The log structure is a landmark among old photos of downtown. It is seen in a color 1948 Life Magazine photo. It sat where the current Eddie Bauer store is on Cache Street. The cabin, some people on horseback and an old Texaco station are the most notable parts of that mostly vanished landscape.
Dorothy "Dot" Mercer lived in the cabin from 1963 until 1970 when it was on Cache Street on Town Square. Graham Mercer, who now owns it with his wife Dorothy Mercer, said she raised a child there.
Described as "fairytale-like" by one preservationist, the former family home turned jewelry store, office and ultimately storage building is running out of time unless the city or an individual steps up.
Moving it from its spot at Deloney Avenue and Jean Street will be pricy — between $12,000 and $20,000, it has been estimated — but the building is free to anyone who wants it, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reports (http://bit.ly/1pUIjOS).
Members of the Teton County Historic Preservation Board have some ideas about how to pay for much of the move if the city wants to use is as a warming hut at Karns Meadow or another site.
Town Manager Bob McLaurin has been investigating moving costs and possible sites, said assistant town manager Roxanne DeVries Robinson. She said Town Councilor Jim Stanford is also working on a solution.
The Mercers have already saved the structure by moving it three times over the past 44 years. They can't save it any longer, but they'll chip in if someone wants to relocate it.
"I would like the city to take it," said Graham Mercer, who is offering $5,000 to help move the old family home.
The Mercers have closed their business and have been trying all summer to give the building away before they move to Bainbridge Island, Washington.
The Historic Preservation board got involved after it received for review the demolition permit issued to the Mercers. Board member John Eastman has been making inquiries to a house mover about possible costs. He even approached the National Elk Refuge, which could not help. The board did not object to the permit, which should be ready for issuance next Thursday.
If the city wants it, as much as $10,000 is available to help out.
"Our board is hoping we can use part of our county budget to match the Mercers' $5,000 if the town wants the cabin," wrote Sara Adamson, president of the Historic Preservation board. "We couldn't offer that money to a private entity, however. But the success of the Karns Meadow idea is anything but assured, so really the cabin is available to anyone who will move it before Aug. 22."
The panel has asked the city to move it to "where a warming hut is needed for the Nordic track," Adamson said.
Adamson and others think the cabin's design makes it perfect for a warming hut. She called the workmanship "unusual for Teton County," where cabins tended to be plainer and less finished.
She said it has "a steep-pitched roof, undulating, wood shingle roof, and oriel windows. The log ends are made to look as if cut by axes.