Back in 1976 James Bryan Creech, a local historian, carpenter, and school teacher took on the challenge to relocate and restore his great grandparents’ log cabin home, built in 1845 by Henry Wright Strickland. Creech salvaged the logs and structural timbers and relocated them from the original site on Old School road to property he owned on Civitan road behind the elementary school in Four Oaks. With the help of family and friends, the cabin was reconstructed to perfection, and James Bryan enjoyed sharing the special place with family, friends, and history fans for the rest of his life. Years after his death the property was sold at auction and in the years since the cabin, one of the oldest existing homes in Johnston County, once again fell into disrepair and was at risk of total ruin. Sections of the roof had caved in resulting in major damage including rotted rafters, sheathing, timbers, and flooring.
Ron Sloan brought the situation to the attention of fellow members of the recently formed Four Oaks Area History Foundation, making them aware of the dire condition of the structure. Realizing there was a very narrow window before the structure was lost, the group began to explore the possibility of rescuing and restoring the cabin. They approached current owners Don and Vicky Rains, who agreed to allow and support the project. The Foundation took on the cabin as their premier project.
The Rains’ and the group reached out to James Bryan’s first cousin, Terry Creech who had been very familiar with the cabin from its initial relocation and restoration. Terry was more than excited to be involved. A Four Oaks native and also a descendent of the Stricklands, Terry agreed to take on the responsibility of the construction and the installation of the period-correct hand-split cedar shakes. “James Bryan told me it was his original dream to use cedar shakes when he reconstructed the cabin but the cost of the materials prohibited it,’ says Creech. “We wanted to finally realize his dream nearly fifty years later. Ironically if he had been able to install this material back then we would likely not be dealing with the repairs now. These should last a very long time.”
Terry, who became a Foundation member, and Foundation President, Jim Best, organized a group of volunteers and professional builders, including Calvin Edgerton, Tracy, Matthew and Andrew Rhodes, David Stanfield, Mike Evans, and Ray Temple. They repaired the cabin structurally and cosmetically to the point that it was protected from the elements until a proper roof could be installed. Terry knew of James Bryan’s original vision to have the roof covered with period-correct cedar shakes. While several individuals had made donations towards the project the newly established Foundation was very short of the funds needed to purchase the cedar shakes and other materials needed to complete the restoration.
S&B Real Estate Ventures had recently begun work on their Fieldview Village neighborhood, whose entrance adjoined the cabin property. When the owners learned about the history of the cabin and its plight they decided to help with the restoration and donated enough to cover the balance for the materials needed. “When a friend made us aware of the structure and the situation it just seemed the right thing to do. History seems to have taken a backseat in recent years and we are really excited to be a part of the History Foundation’s efforts to bring this part of Four Oaks history back to life,” said S&B partners Chris Stanley and Nicholas Byrd.
The Rains’ family is leasing the cabin property to the Foundation where we plan to put it to use as a historic site and museum which can be opened for special events and for educational purposes. “We appreciate the generous support of S&B, Western Cedar Supply of Garner, and others who have made this initial project possible, getting us off the ground and moving forward. We welcome and encourage others to become members of the Foundation and join us in our efforts to preserve and protect the unique history of the Four Oaks area.” said Jim Best.