A Tale of Two Cabins

Written by Davie Kean, master gardener at the T.C. Steele State Historic Site

Brown County, Indiana, is log cabin country, so it was fitting that the First Annual ‘Create it with Gingerbread’ contest featured this theme. The Dewar Cabin at T.C. Steele State Historic Site inspired staff member Mary Ann Woerner to enter the competition.

After taking careful measurements, and several photos for reference, she began constructing a scaled-down, edible version of the historic building. She enjoyed the planning of the cabin more than its construction. Perhaps Peter Dewar, the builder of the original, felt the same.

Early settlers to the area favored logs hewn from Tulip Poplar (our state tree) for their rustic cabins. It’s one of Indiana’s taller species — straight-grained and easily worked, making it an ideal building material.

Mary Ann’s cabin used different ingredients. 18 cups of flour were needed for the gingerbread dough to form the logs. The structure was then chinked with four cups of Royal Icing. She even included 18 gingerbread men, representing the numerous children of the Dewar family. Unfortunately, her dog developed a taste for gingerbread and four of the cookie-kids were short-lived.

Compare Mary Ann’s reproduction with views of the real cabin. Photos by Mary Ann Woerner.

The Ever Popular Tulip Poplar

Tulip-poplarI first knew Indiana’s state tree by the name Tulip Poplar. Years later, I learned that it ‘should’ be referred to as the Tulip Tree or Yellow Poplar. All these are just common names for Liriodendron tulipifera, a member of the Magnolia family — and anyway, how can a ‘common’ name be incorrect?

Our state tree could do double duty — its blooms are as spectacular as any state flower I know of. As a state tree it’s pretty popular — Kentucky and Tennessee have chosen it as well. We did in 1923. Continue reading