South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Crestwood grants extension to Sappington foundation for cabin’s rebuild

Photo by Erin Achenbach
Thomas Sappington House Resident Manager Sally Cakouros walks past pieces of the Joseph Sappington Cabin’s roof during its dismantling Sept. 13, 2022.

The Crestwood Board of Aldermen voted last month to grant an extension on a project to reconstruct a historic log cabin in a city park.

The board voted 6-1 Nov. 22 on a bill granting an extension to the Sappington House Foundation for the completion of the second phase of the reconstruction of the historic Joseph Sappington Cabin in the Thomas Sappington House Park.

The cabin, built in 1816, was originally located at 10734 Clearwater Drive in Affton. It belonged to Joseph Sappington, a cousin to Thomas Sappington. In March 2021 the owner of the property, Jim Freund, approached Crestwood offering to donate the cabin to the city if it could figure out a way to move it. After several months of discussion at board meetings, the city reached an agreement last September with the nonprofit Sappington Foundation to authorize the foundation to reconstruct the cabin on city property, along with a $125,000 reimbursement toward the cabin’s move.

The project was to be completed in three stages, with phase one being the cabin’s disassembly, completed in September by Antique Logs Unlimited of Kirkwood, and phase two the reassembly of the cabin in the Thomas Sappington House park, 1015 Sappington Road. Phase three involves finishing work. The cabin had been part of the National Register of Historic Places since 1982, although it lost that designation when it was disassembled. 

At the time of the original agreement, the foundation hoped the cabin would open to the public as an education and event space by November 2023, however the extension approved by aldermen Nov. 22 grants it until November 2024. The foundation cited several reasons for the delay, including but not limited to permitting from St. Louis County, wet weather conditions in spring 2022 and the “architectural complexity of re-fitting a 200-year-old cabin within 2022 building code.” The foundation stressed that fundraising was not an issue, stating that it has raised over $80,000 toward the cabin’s relocation as of Sept. 28.

During the bill’s second reading, Ward 2 Alderman Justin Charboneau expressed concerns with granting the extension. Charboneau was the main opponent to the original relocation agreement and also blocked a second reading of the extension agreement during its first reading in October.

“I just think making this type of commitment — making this organization have this type of commitment to maintain the building is something I just ultimately don’t see it is in the full capability … to maintain the building completely up to code and … city standards in the long term,” Charboneau said. “Because it will sit on city property in a city park, (the city) will ultimately have to take over maintaining and keep up of the building … I just think that this will be an extra drain on city resources longterm … foundation resources.”

Ward 1 Alderman Jesse Morrison, who has served on the city’s Public Works Committee, also expressed some reservations about the project.

“It seems to me that the reconstruction of the cabin would essentially put it at … an extremely revitalized condition in that it’s not as though we’re dragging it down the street and hoping that it stays together. I think from that perspective I feel fairly good,” Morrison said, adding, “It feels like a very big project with a very big appetite and I just have concerns about it from that perspective.”

Ward 4 Alderman John Sebben, who previously served as the fundraising chair of the Sappington foundation, said that the Sappington House park’s longterm master plan included the addition of new buildings and facilities and that the cabin would fill that role.

“The original plans … for the complex had a gazebo slash stage. The stage planned in front of (the cabin) will take that place … at less of a cost overall than new, modern options,” Sebben said. “It’s definitely something we don’t want to lose … and from talking … with people involved with the deconstruction of the property, the extension is more based on timing … rather than fundraising.”

Ward 4 Alderman Tony Kennedy added that he had “complete faith and confidence” in the Sappington House Foundation that “they’ll be able to pull this off.”

“This is a great opportunity to let history continue on in Crestwood … it outweighs the risk it might have,” Kennedy said.

“I know I’m not going to win this battle but this will be my last public time to comment on this as I will not be on the board in two years,” Charboneau replied. “I am concerned about a project that will be on city property that the city doesn’t really have control or oversight in building. I don’t think anyone would let someone come in on our personal property and build something without having more oversight … I’m really concerned that this project is never going to see the light of day.”

The board voted 6-1 in favor of granting the extension. Ward 1 Alderman Jim Zavist, Ward 3 Aldermen Greg Hall and Scott Shipley, and Morrison and Sebben voted in favor. Charboneau was against. Ward 2 Alderman Mike Balles was absent.

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