Rotary to rededicate downtown Scout log cabin

by Judy Stringer

When Scouts, Rotarians and local officials gather to dedicate the newly reconstructed Boy Scout Cabin on Hudson’s West Village green Saturday, Aug. 19, it will be just one week shy of 92 years to the date of the cabin’s original dedication.

The log cabin – built in 1931 as the headquarters of Hudson’s first Boy Scout Troop, Troop 321 – is a recognizable downtown landmark and an important part of the community fabric, Rotary Club of Hudson members said last month during a sneak peak tour of the renovations.

“It’s not just about the building itself. It’s about the people who have come through here over the 90-plus years,” explained Rotarian Kelly Brennan, chair of the cabin renovation effort. “I wonder how many [lives] we’ve changed just by having the opportunity to be in this distinctive log cabin?”

Andy Morse, past president of Hudson Rotary and a former Scout Troop 321 leader, counted doctors, lawyers, artists and engineers, including a nuclear physicist, among the successful professionals who have passed through the wooden doors. Moreover, he said, the cabin has been home to more than 125 Eagle Scouts, whose service projects can be seen across the city, with many of those Eagle Scouts also serving as past or present community leaders right here in Hudson. 

“Scout Troop 321 and its Eagle Scouts are the pride of Hudson,” Morse said. “We are excited to see how the cabin can continue to support the growth of so many kids in Scouting – who in turn will contribute their skills to Hudson’s success – for the next 100 years.”

Documents provided by Hudson Rotary trace the cabin’s beginnings to a partnership between the Rotary, which is the longtime sponsor of Troop 321; then Scoutmaster Edgar Ray Seese, who wanted a more fitting meeting place; and Hudson Township trustees, who granted Seese permission to build on what was park property at the time. Seese and his troop began construction in February 1931 and completed the main structure – the portion from the chimney to the door – six months later. Current Rotarian James Yard said 500 people were reported to have showed up for the Aug. 26, 1931, dedication “in the rain.”

As Scouting surged in popularity mid-century, the cabin was extended with an addition on the south end. That was the last major change to the framework, Brennan said, and over subsequent years the American Chestnut logs sustained significant rot and deterioration.

“It was really decided around 2018 and 2019 that this structural damage needed to be addressed, and that’s when [Hudson Rotary] began to put together a committee to see what needs to be done,” he said. 

A new roof and ceiling supports were a major part of the $200,000 construction costs. The cabin’s 90-year-old roof was “sagging,” according to Brennan, and had to be pulled off and replaced. In addition, air conditioning was added to the updated HVAC system. 

Jim Young, a Rotarian and retired homebuilder who consulted on the renovations, said the replacement of damaged chestnut logs was one of the biggest challenges because that species is no longer available.

“Anytime you are working on a restoration of historical significance, you do so with the knowledge that you want to put it back and make it look like it did originally,” Young said.  

Rotary was very “fortunate,” Brennan added, that Heeter Enterprises of Ravenna stepped up to donate and deliver logs that looked very similar to the American (a.k.a “wormy”) Chestnut.

“That saved us a tremendous amount of money,” he said, “but it was finding someone that could remove any of the logs that were damaged and needed to come out, or had to be removed for repair, where we spent a lot of time and money.”

All logs, old and new, were debarked so that they could be properly preserved, Brennan said. The structure basically had to be dismantled piece by piece, he explained, numbered and then rebuilt. The windows, also original to the cabin, were replaced as well.

A flagpole for the front courtyard and landscaping around the cabin – which will be done with the help of current Scouts – are among other near-term improvements. 

Yard said Rotary has raised a total of $250,000 for the cabin project, including a $50,000 grant from its foundation and proceeds from its last two annual gala events. The state of Ohio pitched in $75,000 for the restoration efforts and other contributors include Hudson Community Foundation, Scouting families and individual donors who purchased commemorative bricks and pavers.

A portion of the donations not used on restoration and landscaping will be set aside for ongoing cabin maintenance, according to Yard.

The Rotarians invite community members to a formal dedication of the restored Boy Scout Cabin on Saturday, Aug. 19, beginning at 10 a.m. Morse will act as master of a ceremony that will feature Hudson City Council President Chris Foster, Mayor Jeff Anzevino, Scouting executive Pat Scherer and Hudson Rotary Chairman Keith Viers.

Young said he also hopes Western Reserve Historian Tom Vince will be available to share some additional insight on the cabin’s inception and early years that morning. The cabin will be open for tours.

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A plaque on the original chimney of the Boy Scout Cabin downtown denotes its 1931 construction. Since that time, the building had sustained significant rot and damage, according to members of the Hudson Rotary who raised the money for and oversaw its log-by-log reconstruction. Photo by J. Stringer
Photo: A new roof and updated HVAC system are part of the improvements. Photo by J. Stringer

On our cover: Members of the Rotary Club of Hudson, including (l-r) Andy Morse, Kelly Brennan, Jim Young, Pat Scherer and James Yard, proudly show off the reconstructed exterior of the Boy Scout Cabin on the southwest quadrant of Hudson’s main intersection. The troop that calls it home, Troop 321, has produced more than 125 Eagle Scouts and countless community and national leaders. Photos by J. Stringer