WEST TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - If you were writing a story about fall in the forest, chances are good you'd include a small log cabin with a stone chimney and surrounded by trees turning from green to gold.
Head to the grounds of St. Mary-of-the-Woods near West Terre Haute, and you'll find just such a cabin. This cabin comes with a story of its own: the story of the Sisters of Providence who have lived here for more than 150 years.
When the first sisters arrived from Europe, they paid a visit to a small log cabin chapel that doubled as home for a local priest. Journals kept by the sisters' leader, Mother Theodore Guerin, compared the tiny log building to the stables that housed cattle in their home country.
"This cabin is such an icon for the Sisters of Providence," said Sister Denise Wilkinson. "It's imprinted on our hearts."
Through the years, though, the original cabin was replaced.
In recent years, though, workers at St. Mary-of-the-Woods set out to rebuild it.
"Dave Cox, who works in advancement, wanted to build this cabin, so he truly set out upon this quest to find the authentic building materials to re-construct the cabin," Wilkinson said.
Cox eventually found those materials, courtesy of David and Faye Masterson of Owensville. The Mastersons donated parts of a log cabin from the mid-1800s which they kept on their property.
"We had to haul (the wood) up here," said Keith Ruble, one of the men who helped piece the cabin back together. "A lot of the logs in this cabin are new. We had to put some new ones in because some of the old ones were bad … It's sort of like a cross-word puzzle."
To design the cabin's interior, the craftsmen used journals kept by the first sisters.
"I received a copy of that journal from Sister Denice," said Max Miller, who helped build the cabin. "I read it for details and made notes and copied exactly what she had in there."
Among the volunteers who helped assemble the cabin were inmates from the Federal Prison in Terre Haute. As it turned out, one of the offenders was a stone mason who helped build the cabin's stone fireplace.
On Wednesday, the sisters dedicated the new cabin. They say they hope visitors will enjoy the cabin as a place of quiet and calm.
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