Fayette home tour #3: Cooley house

Written by David Green.

tour.cooleyCurt and Nancy Cooley's farm at the corner of County Road R and County Road 23 is a long way from northern Michigan where the family spent many a summer vacation in the past, but the memories remain.

Curt recalls that one week a year as a child, his family made the long excursion north and that tradition continued after he and Nancy were married.

Four years ago they decided to recreate a bit of the past right in their own yard southeast of Fayette. In October 2008, they ordered a cabin in the woods—minus the woods.

It was once an all-day venture to go north, but not anymore. 

“Now I can walk a few feet and get a similar experience,” he said. “It’s really relaxing. You can feel all the stress of the day go away.”

The 20- by 30-foot cabin was constructed  just north of their home by an Amish crew. Creekside Sawmill of Topeka, Ind., furnished the nine-inch logs for the walls of the structure and the cabin was assembled by an Amish man, his three sons and two grandsons. There's tongue-and-groove flooring on the ground level and also on the floor of the 200 square foot loft.

For outside enjoyment away from insects, the Cooleys added a 10- by 16-foot gazebo with a double roof covered with cedar shakes. A sidewalk of paver bricks connects the gazebo with the cabin.

The cabin is decorated in a northern cabin style and includes a Jenny Lind bed and a vintage washtub with wringer on a wooden folding stand.

For the home tour, the antlers are decorated with lights, small bears climb the beams and a seasonal evergreen tree brightens the scene.

The cabin took just four days to build, but another 40 days to stain. A former student of Curt’s—he taught science in Wauseon for four decades—and her fiancé did the work, along with staining the fence.

That long, long fence is something Nancy really appreciates. In addition to cutting off the corner cutters who used to drive through the yard, it simply defines the lawn from the landscape beyond.

“That fence is the best thing,” she said. “It serves a purpose that we never thought about.”

She sees her grandkids playing out in the yard more often now that the boundary is in place.

The cabin serves as a popular spot for many family activities ranging from family Christmases to grandchildren’s ball team gatherings.

“It’s been the center of a lot of activities,” Curt said, but when people ask why they built it, he has a pat answer.

“When my wife and I feud, I tell her I’m going up north. Thirty steps and I’m there.”

They’ve kept it somewhat rustic—for example, there’s no plumbing—but don’t get any ideas about using the little outhouse tucked in among the trees. 

That’s just another reminder of the north country, Curt said, and the door is nailed shut.

• For parking during the tour, look for the long driveway near the cabin off County Road R. Park off to the side of the drive to allow other traffic to pass through.

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