Restoration of the Cabin Begins
At the time of its donation, the building was the only surviving former slave cabin known to exist in the mountains of northeast Georgia. It underwent several renovations and received various additions during the course of the 20th century. These included exterior siding, a tin roof, added on rooms including a bathroom, interior wall paneling and 20th century paint.
The first steps in the restoration were to remove all modern materials and preservation of the "historic fabric" of the initial dwelling. Jim Johnston and his skillful crew stabilized cabin walls, strengthened the structural flooring system with additional "hand-hewn" floor joists and sturdy Southern pine flooring. They removed 20th century paint, replaced exterior siding with salvaged weatherboarding (giving it a temporary "patchwork" appearance) and restored or replaced the interior paneling with seasoned heart pine, leaving one "witness panel" revealing hand-crafted pegs used in the original construction.
The rock chimney was meticulously disassembled; the stones were labelled and stored for reassembly after the cabin is moved to the Heritage Site. Even the original rock piers and part of the nearby "Emancipation wall" were saved for reassembly at the new site.