Eighteen years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, a simple log cabin was built 350 miles to the south, near the Delaware River, in what’s now New Jersey.
“It includes an instant museum, artifacts, and antiques,” says listing agent Christina Huang. “It’s absolutely an incredible property.”
It’s also a rare property. Listed on the Register of Historic Sites through the U.S. Department of the Interior, the home claims to be the oldest log cabin in the United States, and the oldest of its type in the Western Hemisphere.
If you think this historic home is worth a visit, you’re not alone. Owners Doris and Harry Rink have lived in the property since the early 1970s and have welcomed thousands of visitors over the years—for free.
Thanks to social media and press attention, news has spread that the historic home is available to tour. Doris Rink simply asks that you call and make an appointment.
The Rinks restored the cabin to its original condition over the years. As they made repairs, they excavated artifacts such as a 300-year-old shoe, clay marbles, and pottery.
With Harry Rink now 88 years old, the owners are offering the place for sale as a life estate. This type of deal would allow them to age in place.
“They want to sell the home. But they want to live there until they pass,” says Huang. “They want to continue free tours. They welcome everyone. They’re almost as much as part of the home as the home.”
The couple live in the 18th-century two-story, three-bedroom, one-bath addition to the cabin. The property itself has been in their family since 1907.
“We just hope someone will be interested in having us as overseers so we can feed them the history,” says Doris Rink of potential buyers. “Few people know pre-Revolutionary War history.”
According to history books, the log structure was built between 1638 and 1643 by Finnish settlers. An expansion was built in the 1730s, and the last addition was completed in 1900.
Although the one-room original building is tiny by today’s standards, “back in the day, that was a very wealthy home,” Huang notes. The cleverly built cabin has “double dovetail” construction with interlocking logs so there was no need for nails.
There are two removable logs to allow for a breeze during the summer months. The family of six had room for a children’s sleeping loft in an alcove accessible by ladder.
Artifacts and furnishings are included in the sale. The 1.3-acre property also features redwood trees, a gazebo, shed, machine shop, and four-car garage
Although the Rinks have fielded offers to convert the cabin into a tea shop, they’ve demurred.
“They want it preserved,” Huang says. “It’s not going to be a normal buyer. Anybody who does purchase it is going to be buying it for historic value.”
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