A two-story log cabin with a red roof stands out among cypress trees along a gravel road in the Splice Creek valley.
The fully-furnished, red-roofed cabin is meant as a rustic retreat from modern life, located a few miles south of Wooldridge in Cooper County. Called Patti’s Place, it’s the culmination of proprietor Patti Vonder Haar’s lifelong aspiration.
“My idea for Patti’s Place is to be a bridge between the old and the present,” Vonder Haar said. “It has the modern conveniences, but it has the feel of what our settlers would have lived in.”
Vonder Haar grew up in St. Louis, dreaming of living in a cabin in the woods. Her husband, Reed, had the same idea, and they made their home in the Splice Creek valley, south of Wooldridge.
The cabin has been open to rent since the spring. Vonder Haar hasn’t listed the cabin on AirBNB, and is mainly working through Facebook, a website and word of mouth at this point.
TV and internet is available, but the idea is to disconnect, she said. One couple asked for the TV and then didn’t even use it, she said. That’s the kind of experience she wants people to have, disconnected from the electronic barrage of modern life — talking, sitting around the fire or watching the sun set over the valley.
There are walking trails around the cabin and the creek is only steps away. Vonder Haar loved that one family spent their entire stay in the creek looking for crawdads. Some people have planned day trips around the area, but didn’t want to leave the cabin once they got there, she said.
There are plenty of modern conveniences, like heating and electricity, an indoor bathroom and a kitchen with gas stove. There’s also an outhouse and an outdoor kitchen with a wood stove, depending on how rustic guests would like their stay to be.
A drawing Vonder Haar made as a child, now framed and hung above a trundle bed in the main room, shows how long she’s envisioned owning a cabin.
“I’ve always loved simple things, not having too much, having just enough,” she said. “And with the logs, it almost still feels alive.”
Putting the cabin together proved more challenging than drawing it. While people have been living in log cabins for thousands of years, it’s largely a lost art in modern Missouri, she said. Vonder Haar found an expert, Kirk Barnes, who builds cabins for a living. Barnes helped bring Vonder Haar’s childhood vision to life, along with many other helpers who are credited on a page in a binder in the living area, full of information about the cabin.
Barnes cut the logs from a forest near his home in southern Missouri, and brought them up to the Splice Creek valley. They had to set in on the foundation for years before the cabin could be completed. After the finishing touches were put in, Vonder Haar was able to open Patti’s Place for business last spring.
Barnes’ logs make up the bones of the cabin, but a lot of it has been repurposed from other buildings. An old corn crib in Prairie Home was salvaged into steps, window trim and a speakeasy front door. The floorboards came from the attic of a house in St. Louis, and the kitchen sink came from Vonder Haar’s childhood home.