End of April Update

End of April Update, Don Clare

This week’s update is going to be a whole lot different than previous ones. As we deal with the red tape items and the brass tacks items of getting started on the restoration project of the General Store, we feel overwhelmed and frustrated with the prerequisites and principles and procedures involved in such an undertaking. But we stand determined to see this project through.

When completed, we think this restoration will serve as a new precedent in the Historic Preservation community locally, state-wide, and even nationally. And here is what makes the difference. It is YOU, our friends, neighbors, supporters, visitors, tourists and those of you who have chosen Rabbit Hash as your preferred tourist destination on weekends, weekdays, and whenever you feel the urge. The Rabbit Hash General Store has always been there to welcome you with open arms and, hopefully, the kind of experience you are looking for.

If it weren’t for you and all your various fund-raising events, organized by you folks, then we would never be able to restore that experience you look forward to each and every time you visit. We cannot thank you all enough for your support!

There have been a lot of questions about the restoration. When? How long?  How much will it take? What else is needed? What is the hold-up? Let’s get on with it! All very legitimate questions and we are diligently working on the answers for you. We have to look at this project as “Rome wasn’t built in a day!” We are taking each baby step as best we can. There are a lot of regulatory agencies whose requirements have to be met. And it will take time.

As we work things out, we want to offer you, all our friends, neighbors and supporters, a special night of fun and camaraderie on the fabulous Belle of Cincinnati, She is coming especially to the Port of Rabbit Hash this coming Sunday for an exclusive cruise and tour of the Boone County area as well as the scenic Indiana counties of Dearborn, Ohio, and Switzerland counties. The Rabbit Hash Historical Society is sponsoring an exclusively designed river cruise, dinner, music and river history entertainment featuring a cash bar, games and fashion centered on the upcoming 142nd Kentucky Derby!

BB Riverboats and the Bernstein family have graciously offered us the Belle of Cincinnati for this special fundraising event and we are inviting all of you to partake in this special opportunity. It is not very often that a major Ohio River Steamboat is offered to an organization like this. The Bernstein family has a very long history of promoting and featuring trips to Rabbit Hash as one of their special yearly events. Now, they have offered this unique river experience, entertainment, and award-winning dinner fare. We cannot thank them enough for their support and generosity.

Please consider enjoying this special trip with us , this Sunday, May 1st. Since the fire, we all have experienced regret, sadness, emotional pain and the processes of grieving in this terrible loss to our community. We want you to think of this special event more as a coming together, healing, cleansing, purging opportunity to let go of the tragedy and move on with the solutions.

Sure, we understand that the cost involved is a sacrifice to a whole lot of us. But we are not concentrating on what we can raise for the project. We just want to cover the expenses of operating the boat, the meal, the crew, and so on and sharing some fun and leisure time with each other. After all, the Store meant so much to so many of us, never mind if you are a local, a tourist, an occasional visitor, or whatever you are. We just want to have this opportunity to get together, enjoy a nice meal and entertainment, enjoy our Boone County and Ohio River history and heritage, and talk about the restoration.

Please contact BB Riverboats to secure you tickets for this special get-together at BBRiverboats .com/rabbit hash. We really want your emotional support for this particular fundraiser!

Sure hope to see you! There will be a very unique musical line-up and silent auction as well!


Don Clare

President, Rabbit Hash Historical Society

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B & B RIVERBOAT KENTUCKY DERBY SUNSET CRUISE TO BENEFIT RABBIT HASH RESTORATION EFFORT

In the wake of the devastating fire that left the iconic Rabbit Hash General Store in ruins on February 13, 2016, B & B Riverboats will be partnering with the Rabbit Hash Historical Society to launch a sunset dinner cruise from the Port Of Rabbit Hash on Sunday, May 1st. Boarding will begin at 5:00, cruise from 6-8 pm and the event will go on until 9 pm. Admission is $55.00, with all proceeds benefitting the restoration of the general store.

The cruise will be Kentucky Derby themed and include a buffet dinner, cash bar, live music, silent auction, “derby races” and a Kentucky Derby hat contest complete with trophies, so be sure to wear your finest derby attire!

We are pleased to announce that live music will be provided on the outer deck by The Knott Brothers, who’s members include Ed Vardiman (of Straw Boss) and Davey Mac (fiddle player for Hank Williams III).

Current Catering’s Chef Jesus Picazo has created a menu sure to tempt the most discernible Kentuckian’s palate. The buffet will include Pimento Cheese on Crackers, Cucumber, Onion and Tomato Salad, Kentucky Burgoo, Ham and Biscuits, Mixed Vegetables, Garlic Cheese Grits, Peach Cobbler and Red Velvet Cake.

The cruise will set sail from and return to Rabbit Hash KY. Parking is limited in town, and arrangements are currently being made for a shuttle from a designated area. Details will be posted as soon as they are available.

The Rabbit Hash Historical Society is a 501(C)3 non profit organization with a limited operating budget. The cost of the restoration of the store has been estimated at $275,000 – $350,000. This area’s concern and generosity, their donations and the benefits that have taken place and are scheduled to take place are overwhelming and humbling. The Historical Society would like to thank B & B Riverboats for the opportunity to host what is sure to be one of the highlights of the Kentucky Derby season!

Tickets are available at: www.bbriverboats.com/rabbithash, or by phone at (800) 261-8586, and will be available in Rabbit Hash on the day of the event.RH Derby Cruise_web

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General Store Benefit at Jane’s Saddlebag

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Flood Mud

Flood Mud

by Don Clare

As we were disassembling the remains of the Rabbit Hash General Store and de-nailing and cleaning up

the various shapes and sizes of the re-usable pieces of wood that survived, a common finding soon

made itself apparent and ‘clear as mud.’ There was evidence of dusty dirt or sticky mud on almost every

piece of wood, depending on the current weather of the day. I thought it would be fun to pick this

finding apart and figure out where all this mud came from, historically speaking.

Ever since those early industrious fellows got together in 1831 to build the very first section of the store

we all knew and loved, it was visited quite frequently by La Belle Riviere (French for ‘the beautiful river’).

The very first visitation and deposit of river to the 1831 store building was on February 18, 1832 when

the Ohio reached a level of 64 feet, 9 ¾ inches (as recorded on that date in Salmon P. Chase’s personal

journal in Cincinnati). When the river reaches between 63 and 64 feet, the water would begin seeping

into the building and covering the floor boards of the (formerly) current general store building, so the 64

foot level in 1832 was at least waist high in the building. This first mud invasion occurred before the

store was even a full year old. Recall that when it was originally built, the structure was built on the

ground, so at 64 feet the water was well into the structure. In our earliest picture of the Rabbit Hash

General Store (taken in 1894 by the premiere historian of that time, Reuben Gold Thwaites, while he

journeyed in a skiff along with a doctor friend, his wife and his young son down the entire 981 mile

length of the Ohio River from Redstone, Pennsylvania to Cairo, Illinois where it entered the Lower

Mississippi) it was still sitting on the ground. Thwaites had actually stopped at Rabbit Hash, posted some

letters in the mail, and took a picture of the building. It looked the same as it did on the day it burned

except that it was sitting at ground level and not up on wooden piers!

Everybody recalls the date 1847, right? That was the date assigned by William H. Nelson for the official

naming of the town. In his booklet “The Buried Treasure: A Rabbit Hash Mystery”, he included “by

request” a piece he had written originally for the Lawrenceburgh Register titled “Rabbit Hash, Kentucky:

The Origin of Its Name.” At that time, Nelson was the editor of both the Lawrenceburgh and the Rising

Sun newspapers. He was also a local school teacher. He married the widow Carlton and lived in the town

of Rabbit Hash, just above the reaches of the Ohio River floods. He attributes the naming to a local

inhabitant by the name of Frank. “He stood somewhat apart, shivering violently, not so much from the

effects of the cold, however, as from the chronic influence on his system of over-indulgence in any and

every kind of alcoholic stimulant that he could buy, beg or borrow.” The day was reported to be

Christmas Day, 1847. “For several days the river had been rising steadily, until now all the houses on the

bank were flooded…” This included the General Store. The flood reportedly crested at 63.7 feet. “It was

a time of considerable hardship and suffering. Snow two feet deep covered the ground, and that

combined with the extreme cold made communication with the outside world extremely uncomfortable

and somewhat hazardous.”

The official recording of Ohio River high waters and flooding actually began in 1858. Before that the

reported levels were somewhat arbitrary but within a reasonable margin of error. According to National

Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service, the official flood stages at

Cincinnati had been 45 feet from 1873 to 1893; 50 feet from 1899 to March 31, 1922; and 52 feet from

April1, 1922 to present. From 1858 until 2014 there were a total of 103 times the Ohio surpassed the 52

foot flood stage. January, February and March have been the most common months for floods and April

not as often. There has been one flood recorded in June.

The flood of January 22, 1862 reached an official level of 57 feet, two and one half inches. So that year

it became threateningly close, but did not get into the building. It would be another 21 years before the

next flooding event and this one was very significant. On February 15, 1883 the river crested at 66 feet,

5 inches, which translates to over 6 feet of water and mud in the building. But it held its ground and

survived that inundation. Three hundred sixty four days later, the flood of February 14th 1884 reached

the level of 71.1 feet, making it the biggest flood of the century and perhaps the region’s original St.

Valentine’s Day massacre. Again, the store survived, but how?

At an unrecorded time in the store’s history, the four 12 inch by 14 inch sill logs were anchored to the

ground with iron rods bolted through the logs to the ground. As the subsequent floods eroded the

ground toward the rear of the store into the creek behind it (viz. 1883 and 1884), large locust posts were

installed to prop up the rear of the building. In the 1894 photo, the front of the store still remains on the

ground, but the rear is supported by these posts, and the sills still anchored to the ground. During the

restoration, an archaeologist from the same Gray and Pape Cultural Resource Company who is serving

as our project manager will be doing some testing to see if we can really tie down the dates of those

structure-saving improvements.

Another 23 years later the next major flood recorded a level of 65.2 feet on January 21, 1907. But once

again, the old girl withstood the ravages and recovered from a new layer of Ohio River mud, which

seeped into and hid in the crevices. Then on March 19, of that same year another high water event

came through the front door registering 62.1 feet. Only six years later, the year 1913 also decided on a

double whammy, two major flooding events just 3 months apart. On January 14, 1913 the waters

peaked at 62.2 feet and before the building was hardly given time to recover, that level was trumped by

the April 1, 1913 crest of 69.9 feet. April Fools! Almost as bad as the 1884 model. More erosion and

more locust post piers needed to support the sagging building, this time even the front porch got props.

In our 1817 photograph of the Reverend Twinkle delivering a sermon at the General Store the locust

posts can be seen under the porch and the February 12, 1918 flood was thankfully kept at bay.

The next flood threat waited until March 21, 1933 to seep into the store, leaving its floors warped and a

muddy mess. You may recall in a previous update article that we found a signed and dated tongue-and-

groove flooring board as we were taking up the floor boards for re-use in the renovation. That floor

board was signed by Vernon Smith and dated Sept. 11, 1933, just 6 months after the 1933 flood. Little

did neither Mr. Charlie Craig nor Vernon Smith know what was to come in January of 1937, or they may

have waited to lay a new floor! They certainly must have been elated to have ‘dodged the bullet’ in 1936

when the river reached 60.6 feet and didn’t ruin their new floor.

The ’37 Flood was the ‘Mother of all Floods’, officially cresting at 79.9 feet, but actually between 81 and

82 feet along our stretch of the river. At the time the American Red Cross declared it the greatest

natural disaster in the history of the United States. There are scores of books and publications

concerning this devastating event if you want to learn more. It is hard to believe that in just six months

(July of 1937); the river was a mere 12 feet deep.

The 1940s witnessed two close calls when the river reached 60 feet in 1940 and 60.8 feet in 1943. But

the river will always come back for the things it left behind previously. The General Store took another

big hit in 1945 at a crest of 69.2 feet, almost rivaling the 1884 inundation. This time, though, the last

vehicular ferry boat (The Mildred) was totally destroyed by the accompanying ice. But again, the old gal

fought back the forces of Mother Nature and with the help of her loyal and caring neighbors carried on

her charged role of social clearing house and centerpiece of the community. Then again in 1948 her

unwelcomed visitor reached 64.8 feet. (By comparison for those of you who remember the 1997 flood,

this was just one tenth of a foot higher!)

The 1950s seemed to give the General Store a well deserved rest from the high floodwaters. Another

close call of 61 feet in March of 1955 did nothing more than threaten. This same scenario repeated in

1962. In 1953 the Secretary of the Army approved the construction of a system and series of higher and

more sophisticated locks and dams to replace the older and obsolete low level dams of the 1910s and

1920s. Mackville (McVille) Lock and Dam Number 38 was completed in 1926 in the Belleview/Mackville

neighborhood. In 1962, after the completion of the new Markland Lock and Dam, it was blown up along

with Dams 35, 36 37 and 39, raising the normal river pool from 16 feet to 26 feet in this particular pool.

This rise brought the Ohio a lot closer to the Rabbit Hash General Store. But the new locks and dams had

nothing to do with flood control. They were built to only improve river navigation by creating a series of

pools (or lakes) all the way from Pittsburgh down to Cairo, Illinois which was the entire 981 mile length

of the Ohio River.

But people were mistakenly under the impression that these new locks and dams would put an end to

flooding around here. So in 1964 the Ohio proved that impression dead wrong when she crested at 66.2

feet, again getting over the counters inside the store. Again neighbors all came to the rescue and moved

goods and supplies up the road a short piece (now Rabbit Hash Hill Road) and the store re-opened in an

empty two room house in a matter of two days (just like they did this past Valentine’s Day, moving the

General Store into the Rabbit Hash barn)!

What was to follow that was a 33 year reprieve from flood water getting into the store building. The

Flood of ’97, as it is now affectionately referred to, struck in early March, 1997 and nearly matched the

1948 crest and missed the 1964 crest by only one and a half feet. The year before, the river tantalized

and intimidated area residents, but called off the invasion at 57.3 feet, just enough to get everyone’s

attention.

This may sound strange or weird, but as we were disassembling the walls and the floors of the building

after the fire, I started collecting this left-behind flood mud into plastic sandwich and storage bags, just

for the heck of it. For me, the mud served as a memory of all the stress, tribulations, inundations, bad

luck and bad karma the poor old gal had to suffer over all these years. Now mixed with the mud was

charred wood and ashes. I figure the mud that was under the tongue and groove flooring put down in

1933 was left from the ’37 Flood and those after that. But the mud I scraped out of the original 4 inch by

12 inch floor joists in the central bay section goes all the way back to 1832, almost 185 years ago! So,

just as people keep the ashes of grandma and grandpa, I thought it only fitting to keep the mud and

ashes of the old gal who meant so very much to me for close to forty years!

Stay tuned for further updates as the restoration begins to take shape…


-Don Clare, President

Rabbit Hash Historical Society

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EVER HEARD of SHOU SUGI BAN ? by Don Clare April 3, 2016

Ever Hear of Shou Sugi Ban? by Don Clare

This update will hopefully answer several frequently asked questions and criticisms concerning the current activities around the Rabbit Hash General Store over the past seven weeks. “Why are you saving all that old burnt wood?” “Why don’t you just push it all over and start from scratch?” You’re just wasting your time saving all that burnt stuff.” Plus many, many more like that. In today’s world of immediate gratification and throw-a-way life activities and products, this seems to be an appropriate response from someone stumbling upon the ‘ruins’ of the General Store. First thought is that it appears to be a total loss with nothing of salvageable value or merit.

Don’t think these feelings have never been felt before about an old historic building or house or some other significant structure at a ‘low’ or ‘pitiful’ time in its life. It happens all the time! It happened to Monticello in 1836 when Uriah Levy decided to purchase the structure that was in total ruins. It happened to Mount Vernon in 1858 when Ann Pamela Cunningham and the Ladies of Mount Vernon helped to save George Washington’s home. It happened to The White House after the British torched it in 1814 during James Madison’s presidency and burned it down to a mere shell, leaving it uninhabitable for a full three years. It happened to the Odd Fellows’ Hall in Covington in May, 2002 when it was reduced to its front façade, back wall and a three story column of smoke and charred debris by a devastating fire that was also caused by an electrical short, only to be restored by its determined owners and friends. It happens all the time all over this country, every day! Now it has happened in Rabbit Hash, to our iconic national treasure and pride and joy. But just like the other aforementioned structures, there are champions for this cause who will see to it that the store will again rise to its former glory and just carry on as usual “after the fire.” And even better, the store will remain on the Department of Interior’s National Register of Historic Places when she begins this new chapter in life.

The Rabbit Hash Historical Society and the people of Rabbit Hash and its surrounds have stepped forward in this case to be the ‘champions’ who will see this restoration through. So many concerned local, regional, state-wide and national and international individuals and groups have joined hands in this effort that it is impossible to name and thank them all in this short article! But you know who you are! And we thank you all from the very essence of our being! This includes individuals who have donated their labor, time, money, kind words and encouragement. It includes businesses that have donated goods and services, direction and advice, and financial support. It involves local, regional, state and federal agencies and regulatory bodies who are assisting in the one common goal of complete restoration of our beloved General Store.

Now, have you ever heard of Shou Sugi Ban, as the title of this piece asks? Or Yakisuki? Well, probably not. But they refer to an ancient Japanese custom of building with charred and burnt Japanese cedar and other species of wood. Usually found on the exterior of buildings, Shou Sugi Ban is now also very popular in interior construction and furniture construction all over the globe. What it is basically is construction methods and techniques using charred and even deeper thickness burned wood, which has proven to be a rot resistant, weather resistant, pest resistant, UV ray and fire retardant, non-toxic way of preserving wood. It has proven to be effective against raw wood ailments for up to eighty plus years without any maintenance other than initial and periodic oiling and sealing.

So, here is our answer and explanation to these various questions and criticisms. We have meticulously dismantled, de-nailed, cleaned and stored under roof all the salvageable pieces and parts of the original building and plan on using these materials in the restoration of the General Store, following all the preservation guidelines and regulatory requirements inherent to this type of restoration. The use of charred and burnt pieces in this project is really not a detriment to the final product, but a proactive defense against the ravages of time and nature!

Please stay tuned for further updates and notices.

 

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Opening Day Parade

Look for Rabbit Hash’s float TODAY in the Opening Day Parade!!

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Rabbit Hash General Store Restoration Update

Rabbit Hash General Store Restoration Update March 29, 2016 by Don Clare

Thank you everyone for your thoughts, comments and questions about the restoration of the Rabbit Hash General Store. I feel we are moving along very efficiently in the disassembly of the remaining materials and structure of the store after the fire. Every piece of material we are removing, we are de-nailing, cleaning and storing under roof in a local donated barn. We are almost down to the floor joists and foundation system.

There are a lot of moving pieces right now in terms of planning, permitting, and trying to find suitable materials for construction, so I don’t really have answers to all of your questions. We are trying to reuse as much material as possible and have some good materials that have been donated, but we’ll also be needing to acquire some specialized materials to replace those elements lost to the fire. Also, not everybody working on the project is able to donate their time. We’re planning to have a public meeting in April at the main Burlington branch of the Boone County Public Library, where we will let people know what our plans are and hopefully answer as many questions as possible about our progress and timeline.

There have been questions about what the estimated cost of the project will be and the results of all the fundraising events and donations. This will all be addressed in the general public meeting as well. So, whatever your concerns might be, please plan to attend this informative and fact finding public meeting. Currently, the time and date is being determined based upon the availability of the meeting rooms at the library.

In the act of removing the top tongue-and-groove floor in the main section of the Store, a flooring board was discovered with a name and date affixed in pencil. It said “Vernon Smith, Sept. 11, 1933”. This is very significant information in recording the past history of this building. Mr. Charles W. Craig purchased the building in 1919 and operated it as a general store continuously until his death in 1945 when the business was taken on by his heirs, wife Emma and son William Jennings Craig (Sheeny) and daughter Elizabeth and her husband, Clifford.

In March of 1933, the river flooded to a depth of 63.6 feet which was about a foot lower than the most recent 1997 flood. The dated floor board indicates that the flood damage must have significant enough to warrant a new floor in September. Little did C.W. Craig or Vernon Smith know what was to come in just four more years! The Flood of 1937! The Mother of all floods.

As we pulled up the floorboards in the main section and the two lateral bays, 1937 flood mud covered every available surface of the flooring and sub flooring….along with the mud from 1945, 1948 and significantly the mud from 1964 and 1997!

Under the top flooring boards was another sub floor of tongue-and-groove flooring running the same way. Now under that sub floor was the mud of the floods prior to 1933 all the way back to the 1847 ‘big river’. This was the year that Carlton Magisterial District began embracing the name of “Rabbit Hash.”

Several of the central bay original floor joists measured 4 inches thick by 12.75 inches wide and 20 feet long. These boards also sported augured horizontal holes through them which indicated that they were indeed formerly river barge structure pieces, as the story has always been told.

After the subfloor of the left bay is removed, de-nailed and stored, then the restoration team can get into action. Be sure to attend the upcoming public meeting about the renovation in the coming weeks.

Our search for suitable clap board for the exterior and the necessary tongue-and-groove lumber for the interior walls, ceilings and floors continues. The two structures we had slated to disassemble have both been recalled; one due to the presence of environmental hazardous asbestos and the other due to having been a former ‘meth lab’, if you can believe that. The EPA has taken charge of both until mitigation can be completed. So, we are still looking for a good source for these materials, preferably close by and free from environmental problems.

Several possibilities are now being considered for the recovery of the necessary larger timber pieces needed to get the all-important foundation and sub structure ready for this mammoth undertaking.

The comprehensive process of getting all the moving parts in this machine working and well oiled takes time. But the stars and planets are definitely aligning and the ducks are beginning to line up in their row. All involved are anxious to get things underway and going, and everyone looking on is anxious and excited to see construction begin. Good things take a little time, a little bit of yours and a little bit of mine.

When the date and time for the public meeting gets finalized, it will be well advertised so everyone has the opportunity to plan to attend. Until then, I will keep things updated as they happen.

To be continued…..

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Autopsy Report: the Rabbit Hash General Store, by Don Clare

Autopsy Report: the Rabbit Hash General Store

On Februrary 13th, 2016, the Rabbit Hash General Store caught fire around 9:00 PM on one of the

coldest nights of the 2016 winter season. Five different Boone County local Fire Departments responded

to the call and fought the fire throughout that intensely cold night, well up into the early morning hours

of February 14th, Valentine’s Day. But all the hearts in the Rabbit Hash area were already

broken…..beyond repair.

This particular Valentine’s Day was a day of grief and mourning, not one of celebration and happiness.

An American icon was taken from us. Not by flood waters, not by ice, not by wind. But by the most

dreaded villain of all…..fire. The same fire that kept us all warm and cozy for the past 185 years and

more.

Oh, God! Please don’t let it have been the Rabbit Hash Iron Works stove. Not to worry! That product

was still totally intact and working as expected two days later. No, it was an elderly Coca Cola cooler in

the riverside back bay that caused this horrible and devastating conflagration. Coca Cola cooler! How

ironic! Featured on the General Store’s façade since 1931, extolling the virtues of this now benign thirst

quencher and very popular soft drink, that happy looking figure named ‘Sprite’ just didn’t seem to have

a bad bone in him. But something went awry. Water over the dam, now, so to speak!

As the Rabbit Hash Historical Society is currently working with multiple National, state-wide, regional,

and local agencies to re-establish the historical iconic National Register structure, the centerpiece of the

Nation Register Rabbit Hash, Kentucky District, progress is taking time. Many issues need to be resolved

and worked out in order to complete this renovation of the Rabbit Hash General Store. There are very

stringent steps in the Department of Interior’s Standards of Historic Renovation to be taken, and we are

taking them slowly and accurately.

“Good Things Take a Little Time….A Little Bit of Yours and a Little Bit of Mine.” This is a song that was

written by a former proprietor of the Rabbit Hash General Store, Danny Wilson, and it explains the

current process of renovation best. Folks, it is going to take TIME, RESOURCES, and FINANCIAL

SUPPORT!

Social media and the internet are major sources of our information now-a-days. But some social media

information is errant and untrue. Be informed, and listen to the facts. The General Store was indeed

insured against fire damage to the fullest amount it could get. That was $60,000. The building was

considered by the insurers as being nothing more than a hay barn or tobacco barn (both being most

vulnerable to fires) and this was the most we could get. Back in the 1980s, we were only allowed

$25,000. But each year we exercised the option to increase its value incrementally up to this current

value. Same for contents. So, we are only going to realize a total of $85,000 from our insurance. The

maximum we could get. Move on!

It is estimated that to replace the Rabbit Hash General Store to its former look and historic style in order

to remain on the National Register of Historic Places is somewhere in the range of $275,000 to $350,

000 (possibly more!) This is including as much of the original fabric and materials that we are now

tenaciously dismembering, cleaning, and storing for re-use. Thanks to local area farmers and land

owners, we have the appropriate facilities for safe and conservative storage. And thanks to numerous

local and regional property owners, we are able to salvage and re-use exact period materials and

artifacts to reproduce the very essence of the General Store make-up and construction.

We are so very fortunate to have such tremendous champions and supporters to have these various

fundraising events for this vision of renovation that it is hard to express the love and support coming

from every angle and area of this regional community. But we do acknowledge and embrace every

effort put forth toward this ultimate goal!

The autopsy showed death by conflagration! It was determined by several expert fire investigators that

the cause of the fire was an elderly Coca Cola cooler which had recently been serviced several weeks

prior for a faulty light switch. It was NOT due to the wood stove. In the town of Rabbit Hash, we take a

lot of stock in the Rabbit Hash Iron Works stove which heats every building in town. So, you can dismiss

this as a cause of the fire, despite several news agencies’ assumptions on the night of the fire.

This autopsy also confirms that the central portion of the General Store was most probably built from

the members of an Ohio River watercraft, either some sort of barge, raft or flat boat that was

dismantled at the site and used for the construction of the central bay of the General Store. It was

basically a balloon framed structure which consisted of four joined sill logs, with four corner mortised

upright beams on each corner, with mortise and tenon plate logs along the upper periphery. Then, two

inch wide vertical boards were attached to the upper plate log and the lower sill logs to complete the

balloon structure. There was NO other vertical framing.

On these vertical boards on the left side of the central bay, it was discovered that a sign of some sort

was painted along about twelve of these upright boards. The letters were large, maybe five or six inches

tall, painted white and then outlined in red. It was extremely difficult to make out what the sign said,

but the first word appeared to be ‘Bayou’ and farther along was ‘La’ which was fairly clear to read Was it

referring to Louisiana? That remains to be seen. Photographs were taken and hopefully can be computer

enhanced to help solve this puzzle.

These upright two inch thick boards were all clear white pine, a species believed not to be in abundance

in our area and probably imported from somewhere in the south. Clear white pine was a very workable

and durable wood type and was preferred in the building and finishing of fine early homes. Today, it is

prohibitively expensive and hard to come by. There were at least two known homes in this area that

were constructed of clear white pine. Conceivably, this wood arrived in the area by boat and then the

boat was dismantled and used to construct the central bay portion of the General Store.

All throughout these huge wide boards (several were 23 inches wide) were found holes for pegs which

was probably the method of construction for the boat. In the building, these thick, wide boards were

attached at the top and bottoms to the sill and plate logs by seven inch long, blacksmith made, hand

forged iron spikes with the rose head pattern at the top. The numerous peg holes all throughout these

boards were all plugged up with a broken off corn cob in order to minimize air and water leaking into

the building. Early insulation? Pretty ingenious, actually. They used whatever was available to them in

those early days of Rabbit Hash history.

The two attached sheds were added shortly after the original pen was completed, again using thick

vertical boards as the sides and various other used and reconditioned lumber for the rest of the

structures. Each shed was slightly below the level of the main floor, which accounted for that signature

‘dip’ one encountered when going from room to room.

The tongue and groove flooring ran in the direction of road to creek in the main section and in the left

(bridge side) shed. In the river side shed it ran perpendicular to that (towards the river). All throughout

the building, patch upon patch, and repair upon repair were observed, each one as innovative and

eclectic as the other. Pieces of tin advertising signs covered mouse holes and holes in the floor.

Whatever used wood pieces were available at the time were used to make repairs when needed. Having

been through at least as many as a dozen or more major flood and high water events in its life, recurrent

repairs were rather commonplace and it is not surprising that used materials were put to good use. The

old timers just used what they had and conserved on everything in their daily lives. The only new

material used in repairs was that used in the past thirty seven years since Louie Scott or the Rabbit Hash

Historical Society had owned the building. But the flames spared nothing, new or old!

Probably one of the most asked questions is “Why are you saving that old burned up ___ (wood)? In

order to maintain the Rabbit Hash General Store’s National Register status and in keeping with the

Secretary of Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties with Guidelines for Preserving,

Rehabilitating, Restoring and Reconstructing Historic Buildings, we are required to re-use as much of the

original material and fabric as we possibly can in carrying out this restoration. That which cannot be re-

used must be replaced by ‘like’ material, using ‘like’ craftsmanship, tools and procedures. Now it’s

beginning to make a little more sense in understanding the estimated inflated cost of renovation, isn’t

it? Why not just build a contemporary building? Because that’s not what Rabbit Hash is all about! We

care for our past; we embrace our history and heritage; we are passionate about the iconic centerpiece

of our town, the very Center of the Universe!

We’re not out to “fool’ people into thinking that the renovated General Store is the original one. We are

merely determined to fix what was taken from us by fire. When all was said and done, we had the

foundation system, floors, and three standing walls remaining…..more than enough to work with in

order to keep this historic building on the National Register of Historic Places. The history of Rabbit

Hash, Kentucky will continue as it always has. Only now, we will refer to ‘before the fire’ or ‘after the

fire’ instead of ‘before the flood’ or ‘after the flood’.

Stay tuned for further updates as they become available.

-Don Clare, President of the Rabbit Hash Historical Society

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Forcht Bank to Help with Restoration

NEWS RELEASE – March 7, 2016image002

Contact: Andrew Miller, Marketing Director

(859) 266-3232, anmiller@forchtbank.com

 

Forcht Bank To Help Rebuild Rabbit Hash General Store

BURLINGTON, KY – Forcht Bank has announced that they will be matching donations made to

the Rabbit Hash General Store at their location in Burlington to help efforts in rebuilding the

historical building. From now until April 30th, Forcht Bank will match donations made in person

at our Burlington Banking Center up to a total of $1,000. Since being decimated by a fire, the

Rabbit Hash General Store has raised over $57,000 to help assist rebuilding efforts.

Despite surviving the Great Depression, multiple floods, and several landslides throughout its

185 years of existence, the Rabbit Hash General Store burned down on February 14, 2016. As a

working general store since 1831, the store is the anchor of Rabbit Hash, a small river town in

Northern Kentucky. The Rabbit Hash General Store was on the National Register of Historic

Places.

“The Rabbit Hash General Store provides some historical significance for this area,” explains

Chip Regenbogen, Burlington Market President at Forcht Bank. “And as a community bank, we

feel compelled to help rebuild one of our community’s landmarks.”

For more information on Rabbit Hash General Store, please visit www.rabbithash.com.

 

Forcht Bank (forchtbank.com), operates 30 banking centers in Fayette, Jefferson, Boone, Grant, Madison,
Taylor, Pulaski, Laurel, Whitley, Knox, McCreary and Green County. Forcht Bank has $1 billion in assets,
placing it among the largest privately-owned banks based in Kentucky, according to the Federal Deposit
Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
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Still Moving

Last week, RHHS and General Store propriter, Terrie Markesbery met with county officials, Judge Gary Moore, Jeff Earlywine, and Matthew Webster to discuss the restoration process, updates, goals, and intended outcomes. Also in attendance were Boone County Historic Preservation Review Board members, building inspector, Jerry Noran, Mike Striker of Gray & Pape, Inc. as well as fellow stakeholders. As plans for the restoration develop, RHHS will work closely with the county and these stakeholders to achieve a successful restoration of the General Store. IMG_3245IMG_3251IMG_3244

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