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West Chester cabin at Keehner Park celebrates silver jubilee
The Cabin in the Clearing at Keehner Park celebrated 25 years in West Chester in 2018.
“This 1833 log cabin, purchased and given to the Township by the children of Union Township [now West Chester Township], is dedicated to the citizens and especially our children for generations to come,” reads a dedication marker displayed at the entrance to the cabin.
The cabin, located inside the 123-acre park at 7211 Barret Road, was dedicated on November 7, 1993. Today, the cabin is open to the public for annual community celebrations, nature programming and special events including The Great Pumpkin Fest in October; Nature Basket in November; and Pioneer Christmas in December.
The Cabin in the Clearing is built from two authentic log cabins constructed in the early part of the 19th century. One of the log cabins was relocated to Keehner Park from a site in Preble County and the second was a cabin found in West Chester, Butler County, Ohio. The children of Lakota Local Schools and local businesses raised $4,300 to fund the relocation and reconstruction of the cabin circa 1991.
In the early 1990s, local volunteers from the construction trades worked to salvage the best pieces of the two log cabins to construct the 16-by-30 foot one-room cabin with a stone fireplace. The cabin’s interior offers a glimpse into the daily life of the pioneers who settled our community and is used as a history education center for the community. It is furnished with period-correct housewares including bedding, kitchen utensils, children’s toys, a spinning wheel and more.
About 10 years ago the facility was re-dedicated in memory of “Miss Mary” Raffel (1940-2008), a longtime Township employee, devoted naturalist and educator who championed the relocation of the Cabin in the Clearing. Through free, educational youth programs – many of which continue today – Miss Mary delighted the children of West Chester and surrounding communities for decades.
While the interior is typically secured, the exterior of the cabin remains available year-round for anyone in search of a unique, picturesque place to take portraits or group/family photos. It is decorated for the holidays each year in the weeks after Thanksgiving. Keehner Park is open from dawn to dusk.
Anyone interested in scheduling a private, small group tours or field trips may do so by appointment only. For more information, call 759-7312.
Special thanks to the West Chester-Union Township Historical Society for its support.