Work continues to finish historic Barker cabin


During the past two years, Westfield residents have watched as the historic Barker log cabinhas been repaired at its new location at 136 Penn St. by City Hall. Now, the final push to finish the cabin is underway with an anticipated spring opening.

“It is coming along. We are getting so close,” said Diana Peyton, president of the Westfield Washington Historical Society. “Just like everything else, we ran into some shortages and trying to get people in to do the work. Construction people are very busy, and we were waiting in line to get people in so that has put us back a little bit.”

The cabin master finished his work Oct. 15, and since that time, windows have been installed and the fireplace and dome work were finished, along with the on the HVAC and electrical systems. Doors are being handcrafted by Peyton’s husband, Jim, out of 1823 cabin materials and will soon be installed.

“We have been hitting it pretty hard,” Peyton said. “There is no way we could have done it without all the volunteers.” Part of the fundraising efforts to repair the cabin included the sale of memorial bricks for the sidewalk in front of the cabin.

“A special thank you to all the people who bought the bricks,” Peyton said. “The walkway going up is beautiful. Everyone giving a little bit has made this a really, really beautiful cabin.”

It had been hoped the cabin would be ready for the 2022 holidays, but Peyton said with the interior still needing furnished and other small items left on the “to-do” list, the Historical Society plans a soft opening in early spring, followed by a grand opening in June to coincide with the Hamilton County Bicentennial.

Built in 1835, the one-room cabin with a small loft was home to Nicholas and Fanny Barker and their 11 children. It’s believed Barker moved to Indiana from North Carolina because he was against slavery and was a conductor on the Underground Railroad. The Historical Society plans to use the renovated cabin as a welcome center and educational center for children.

“When I found the cabin two years ago, I had no idea what it was going to become or what kind of work would be involved. It has absolutely been a labor of love,” Peyton said.

“I am so happy we have something that belongs to everyone in the community, and I can’t wait to invite the children in to learn more about our history.”