‘Labor of Love’: Historic Barker log cabin now open for weddings, other events


Officials with the Westfield Washington Historical Society are looking to the future after the restoration of the historic Barker log cabin on Penn Street.

Work on the cabin, which was built in 1835, was completed earlier this year. The one-room cabin with a small loft was home to Nicholas and Fanny Barker and their 11 children.

Diana Peyton, president of the Westfield Washington Historical Society, unveiled the completion of the cabin at 136 Penn St. in June to coincide with Hamilton County’s bicentennial and described the moment as “a long time coming.” Peyton said she looks forward to having the community enjoy the cabin, which features rocking chairs on the porch.

“This is your cabin,” Peyton said.

The cabin, which is available for rental use for weddings and other occasions, will also be used as a welcome center and educational center for children. It’s believed Barker moved to Indiana from North Carolina because he was against slavery and was a conductor on the Underground Railroad.

Nicholas Barker settled in Westfield in 1835 on a piece of property north of Ind. 32 and Shady Nook Road and built a 20-foot-by-22-foot cabin for his family. The cabin was the Barker home for several years before he built a modern farmhouse directly in front of the cabin and repurposed the cabin as a barn.

But restoration work on the cabin, which is just east of Westfield City Hall, has been an ongoing process after the pandemic put the project on hold, according to Peyton. However, work resumed in May 2022 and was finished in October of the same year, she added.

Mike Bailey, far right, who worked extensively on the historic Barker log cabin project as its cabin master, in front of
the cabin as Diana Peyton, president of the Westfield Washington Historical Society, looks on.

Mike Bailey, who worked extensively on the project as its cabin master, said “it was definitely an honor” to work on the project. Bailey has worked on other projects elsewhere and described his work in Westfield as “a labor of love.”

Bailey, who lives 10 miles south of Corydon in southern Indiana, said he was initially contacted after the historical society’s original builder on the project dropped out and was working on another cabin in Kokomo at the time for the Kokomo School Corp. Asked if there were any particular challenges with the historic Barker cabin compared to others he has encountered, Bailey said he has worked on more than 80 historical restorations dating back to the Civil War era across the United States.

“Every building’s different – there’s new challenges everyday and every hour actually, but we had to do a lot of rematching and reconfigure where the logs were going,” Bailey said. “”We had a road map of how it should be, but we used our experience … and we just tried to make it beautiful and last another 100 years so people in town could enjoy it and it was a great experience.”

Bailey, however, said every project is unique in its own way.

“It’s also very meaningful that this town was involved in the Underground Railroad and the religious underpinnings,” he said. “I never seem to be amazed at the pioneer grit – they lived for survival, not free time, and each of these logs represents a pioneer … so it’s really fun to see cabins put back together and we can learn a lot about the pioneers.”

Bailey also offered some advice for the public, whether they walk by or step inside the historic Barker log cabin.

“I think if you’re really going to experience a cabin like this, you need to imagine being a pioneer, you know, and really imagine what it was like for these people who risked for our country … and the fact that a dozen children were raised here in this amount of space,” Bailey said. “And kids slept in lofts and things of that nature and we have it pretty easy today, so it’s a good reminder of the people who forged this nation and how hardworking they were.”

Diana Peyton, president of the Westfield Washington Historical Society, speaks at a dedication ceremony in June about work completed on the historic Barker log cabin. The one-room cabin with a small loft was home to Nicholas and Fanny Barker and their 11 children.

More information

For more information on the historic Barker cabin and rentals, contact Westfield Washington Historical Society President Diana Peyton by calling 317-710-7919 or email [email protected]. Information can also be found on the historical society’s website by visiting wwhs.us.


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