By JOSH MEDORE
At first glance, you see a log cabin.
At second glance, you see it’s not just any log cabin.
Trees hide most of the two-story cabin from view, but follow the roofline, and you’ll begin to see this is a big building – about 5,000 square feet of big.
And, it’s got a history.
A select few got a chance to see the inside the “Wick Cabin” during the Wick Park Neighborhood house tour on June 25. The tour’s main purpose was to show the progress some residents were making on renovating homes in the neighborhood. An added bonus was the tour of the log cabin. Because this is an actual residence, only the common areas were open to the public.
The history of this home dates to 1886, when famed industrialist Henry K. Wick decided he wanted a hunting lodge, where he could entertain guests. He hired Charles Owsley, an English-born architect, to build a log cabin in a forest north of Youngstown. Owsley designed a number of buildings in the area, including the Mahoning County Courthouse in Youngstown and the Columbiana County Courthouse in Lisbon.
“That was their hunting cabin. That was their party house. That was where they’d come and get smashed and have parties and maybe shoot a bear or something,” said Joe Parent, who is currently renovating two houses on Bryson Street in the Wick Park Neighborhood.
“When they got bored being over here by themselves, they decided to set up the park and plot out these lands.”
The Wicks originally owned the land from Crab Creek all the way to Belmont Avenue. Most of that forested area eventually became home to Wick Park and the log cabin became home to Louie Kennedy, owner of the Royal Oaks, a bar and grill on the city’s East Side.
The cabin, unlike many historic homes in the area, has always had occupants of some form.
“I rented (the cabin) from ’85 to ’89. And in ’89, I bought the house because the (owner) lived in Warren and didn’t want to take care of it,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy and previous occupants have left most of the building’s architectural features untouched. Much of the wood paneling in the foyer and elsewhere are in cherry and mahogany. The mantels on the many fireplaces are intricately carved in these same woods.
Most of the renovations were done before Kennedy arrived. Most were out of necessity.
“It’s mostly original. You have to keep in mind that when this house was built, it wasn’t really a house, it was a hunting lodge,” Kennedy said. “There was no plumbing. No indoor restrooms.
“At some point, H.K. Wick’s wife (Millicent) moved here and put servant’s quarters on the back of the house … they converted closets into bathrooms (and) put a kitchen in it.”
There is no documentation of the addition of the servant quarters. However, the earliest picture showing the quarters and the garage dates to 1912.
After the land was platted and roads were added, the house received its current address on Illinois Avenue. As a result, the house sits sideways from the road and faces east towards Wick Avenue, which was the original road to the house.
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