An original log cabin dating back to 1638 with ironwork dating from the 1590s is being offered for sale in what was the New Sweden Colony in Gibbstown, New Jersey for $2.9 million. In 2011, experts declared Nothnagle Cabin to be the world’s oldest log cabin standing in its original place.
The home was built by Antti Niilonpoika, a pioneer Finnish settler also known by his Americanized name of Anthony Neilson. For over a hundred years the cabin stayed in the same family. In 1968, it was purchased by Harry Rink who had visited the owners, his relatives, as a boy in the late 1940s and helped with chores and repairs. Since then, he and his wife have maintained its original condition, furnishings and antiquities, most of which convey with the property. Having received much recognition, it was added to the Library Of Congress in 1922, the State Register of Historic Sites in 1922 and The National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
Named Nothnagle Cabin, it was built of strong white oak, square-hewn logs with carefully fitted dovetail joints and trunnel pins (wooden dowels) requiring no nails. The bricks used in the asymmetric corner fireplace were thought to be brought from Europe and used as ship’s ballast. The iron pot hangers, used for cooking over the fire, were dated as far back as the 1590s. Originally the cabin, measuring 16 by 22 feet, had dirt floors, but in 1730, when it was 100 years old, Loblolly pine floors were added. Also in 1730, stairs to the upper floor were added. Before that the younger children would have to climb a ladder to reach their sleeping quarters. Finns constructed cabins with slightly protruding upper logs to deflect rain away from the cabin, which helped preserve the bottom logs. Historically, a pioneer family would live for many years in their original cabin and later when the children were growing older and space was even more at a premium, they would add a larger home, connecting it to the original cabin. Such is the case with the Rink property. Two hundred years ago, the family built a larger colonial home attached to the cabin where the Rinks live and is part of the sale. The three-bedroom, one-bath residence has an eat-in kitchen, dining room and parlor. Sited on 1.3 acres with 100-foot redwood trees, included is a gazebo, storage shed, machine shop and a four-car garage.
The Rinks have been giving educational tours of the cabin since they were first married and enjoy showing visitors how pioneers lived in the beginning of the country’s history. The cabin itself has not been occupied since 1918 but was attached to the existing two-story home of the Rinks out of convenience, where they processed milk and meat as Greenbriar Farms in the 1900s.
The sale of the home includes artifacts, antique furnishings and all fixtures. A life estate is requested as part of the sale, where Doris and Harry Rink, now in their late 80s, hope to continue tours and welcome visitors as long as possible. Priced at $2.9 million, the listing agent is Christina Huang of Weichert Realtors, East Brunswick, New Jersey.
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