If walls could talk, those of a log cabin built a century ago would certainly have a lot to say – and Kevin Thomas is listening.
“That wood kind of soaks up the history,” said Thomas, a Dobson builder whose life’s work revolves around the iconic homes.
“Think of all the things those logs have seen, the weather they’ve withstood.”
Thomas, who is increasingly known as “The Log Whisperer,” will be speaking at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History on Nov. 13 at 2 p.m.
The museum’s history talks are free, open to the public, and held on the third floor.
The way Thomas describes it, his career as a log home builder snowballed from his first project, a cabin for his father, in 1984.
His love for the building reaches back even further, but stems from the same place.
“It all goes back to my dad,” one of 10 children raised in a log cabin. “I just sort of grew up in that, had a love of old things.”
As an adult, Kevin’s father decided to build himself a cabin.
“We just had a lot of fun,” he recalled. “By the time we got it done, someone in Elkin wanted one.”
And after that, someone in Galax, Virginia, wanted one, and that’s how things continued until his father died more than a year ago.
“He felt like he was doing something he was called to do,” Thomas said of his dad. “I sort of feel that way too. He had a heck of a work ethic that he passed on to me. I just feel blessed.”
Becoming a phenomenon
Thomas said his nickname has a lot to do with his success.
He was first called “The Log Whisperer” by a client, Karen Manfredi, who was quoted in the May 2006 issue of Log Home Design magazine.
“I started calling Kevin the Log Whisperer,” she said in the article. “I would watch this thing going up and start to cry; it was so beautiful.”
Thomas explained that when working with logs it’s as if they do talk to him.
“I had a feel for where they go,” when becoming part of a reconstructed cabin. “I want it to look like it’s always been this way.”
The nickname, and the quality of workmanship it reflects, have earned him a good reputation.
Thomas’s Facebook page, “The Log Whisperer at Old Log Houses by Thomas,” has garnered more than 38,000 followers, and his work has been featured in Our State magazine, Winston-Salem Monthly and other media outlets.
“That name just stuck,” he said. “It kind of cracks me up, but it’s served me well.”
Thomas also credits what he called the “little house craze sweeping the nation” with the popularity of restoring old cabins.
“The log cabin was the original little house,” he said. “It’s just simple living. A lot of people are craving that right now.”
At the talk, Thomas will bring some of his old tools, talk about how he got into the business and share some of the mysteries he’s uncovered, according to the museum.
“I hope they get a feel, not just for my history – how that Log Whisperer phenomenon got started – I want them to really get a feel for log cabins and what it’s meant for people who lived here several hundred years ago.
“It gives you respect for the people that built them,” without modern conveniences. After the talk, he said, “I hope they’ll know a whole lot more about log cabin’s history throughout the ages.”
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.