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Restoration of the Henry and Jane Sitzes Log Homestead in Marquand is well underway as crews from Riverbank Enterprises have been on site for a couple weeks.

The historic cabin looked much different during this year's Pioneer Days celebration the last weekend of September, as the fire causing the extensive damage occurred just five days after Pioneer Days 2018. The fire was determined to be arson. 

On the 11th day on site, Riverbank Enterprises Owner Robin Ridlon said the company had already removed the burned-out floor and replaced it, installed a new stairway and loft, as well as installed a new roof.

"We used a commercial sand blaster, using 2,400 pounds of sand to get the char off," Ridlon said. "It was one of the nastiest jobs I've recently been involved in."

Ridlon said the cabin should look almost exactly as it did before the fire.

"We've used rough cut oak and pine, contributed and delivered by people at Trackside Hardwoods, Brad and Tara Gibson," Ridlon said. "The larger oak timbers Jergon Braswell cut off his farm and had milled."

Ridlon said they have had to use some new materials but he does not think it will take away from the overall look of the cabin. 

The crew moved on to other commitments at the end of the week, but Ridlon said they would be back to install the windows once the right ones are located. 

"Denny Ward is working on a plan for chinking the logs and we will come back to install the windows," Ridlon said. "Our part should be pretty well complete by the end of this week."

Ward said the Marquand Development Corporation is very pleased with the progress being made by Riverbank Enterprises.

"They have a keen understanding of historic structures and their unique construction, which makes them the perfect company for our project," Ward said. 

Ridlon admitted that he really did not want to take on this job at first but his business partner and son, Zac Ridlon, convinced him.

"Zac loves a challenge and said we should do the job," Ridlon said. "Well, it has been a challenge, but I'm glad we took the job, if for no other reason but all the fine people we've met here."

Ridlon said Marquand is an amazing town and, if he did not like Arcadia Valley so much, he would move.

"The people are fabulous," Ridlon said. "They take such pride in their town. I can't count the number of people who have stopped by to express their thanks and appreciation."

Ridlon said he was not going to name names for fear of missing someone but wanted to mention one man in particular.

"I have to thank a fella we've met, George McDowell, who let us use this lift truck with the work basket," Ridlon said. "It has save us strained muscles and hours and hours of manual labor. He and the truck have been a blessing."

Ridlon said there have been several people coming by to express how much the cabin means to the community. He said one man came back, sticking his head in the cabin window, and told him how he never cries, but the day the cabin burnt he wept. 

While the cabin is quickly beginning to take shape, there is still much more work to complete.

"We are still in search of double-hung, 6/6 pan historic windows for the seven window openings the cabin has," Ward said. "The rough openings for the four windows located on the front facade are 29.5 inches by 47 inches, with the other three being 30 inches by 54.5 inches."

Ward said if you happen to have any of these stashed away in a shed, barn or outbuilding please call or text him at 573-567-6279 or Ridlon at 573-631-0932.

"Our goal is to have the cabin completely sealed off from the elements before winter weather and completely restored and furnished by Pioneer Days 2020," Ward said. "Marquand Development Corporation continues to raise funds and welcomes your donations."

In October of 1989, Marquand Development Corporation acquired the cabin from the Sitzes family. It was dismantled, rebuilt and placed in the park. 

"It has been the centerpiece of our little town and festival for years now," Marquand Mayor Ed Kennon said earlier this year. "It was, and should be again a symbol of appreciation for our ancestors and a contribution to our children."

Kennon said the cabin is an important symbol to teach today's era of the kind of lives those before us lived and improved upon.

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Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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