Adventures in Housing

Building a house, one log at a time

Maria Hollenhorst Feb 19, 2020
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Brigitte Ruthman's cabin she built near Sandisfield, Massachusetts. Courtesy of Brigitte Ruthman
Adventures in Housing

Building a house, one log at a time

Maria Hollenhorst Feb 19, 2020
Brigitte Ruthman's cabin she built near Sandisfield, Massachusetts. Courtesy of Brigitte Ruthman
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Welcome to our series, “Adventures in Housing.” Because more and more, that’s what finding and affording a place to live has become. These will be your stories. Share yours using the submissions box below.


Brigitte Ruthman has always found a certain magic in log homes. 

When she was young, Ruthman’s family spent vacations in a cabin in the Laurentian Mountains. The massive hand hewn logs, she told Marketplace, had “little secrets in them”— like the love note tucked into the cracks by a previous occupant that they found. 

“I always thought, this is so much better than living in a perfectly square room … It’s like living in artwork,” she said. “I decided that someday I would live in a log home.”

In 1996, Ruthman bought a piece of land near the small town of Sandisfield, Massachusetts. It was three telephone poles off the grid, but she fell in love with it. “The light just looked like something in a Provence painting and I thought, this is the most beautiful piece of land I’ve ever seen.” 

After years of clearing the land, getting permits, building a driveway, and digging a well, she was ready to start work on a house. “I got a log cabin kit, enlisted a couple of my friends and my reluctant brothers, and we together kind of just went about the task of building a log home not having ever done it before.” 

Brigitte Ruthman's log cabin under construction
Brigitte Ruthman’s log cabin under construction

Ruthman acted as her own contractor, learning as she went. 

“If somebody had told me how difficult it is to build a house, I might have given it pause,” she said. “In the end, it all seems to be worth it.”

When Ruthman moved into her log cabin, part of the roof was still unfinished. “I do remember the first night I spent in that home” she said. “I felt that I belonged.”

Just like the cabin from her childhood, Ruthman’s home has bits of history hidden in the walls. “I’ve scribbled little notes all over the logs,” she said. “If somebody takes them apart in 100 or 200 years, they’ll see what I left behind.”


Tell us about your adventure in housing below, and we might just put you on the radio.

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