Walden Lane residents offer a real fixer-upper

"One person’s rustic is another’s dilapidated.Somewhere in between sits a small cabin on Walden Lane, a leftover from a bygone Bainbridge now looking for a new home and perhaps new residents.“We thought, ‘one last chance,’” said Walden resident Lara Lant, who’s offering the cabin – free of charge – to anyone who wants to cart it away.No takers? It burns."

  • Saturday, October 23, 1999 1:00pm
  • News

“One person’s rustic is another’s dilapidated.Somewhere in between sits a small cabin on Walden Lane, a leftover from a bygone Bainbridge now looking for a new home and perhaps new residents.“We thought, ‘one last chance,’” said Walden resident Lara Lant, who’s offering the cabin – free of charge – to anyone who wants to cart it away.No takers? It burns.“We’d feel bad to just let it go ‘poof,’” Lant said. “But it’s getting to be a hazard. It is a hazard.”The history of the cabin – which sits on a designated greenbelt and is owned by the Walden Lane Homeowners Association – is sketchy. Local lore has it built around 1902 by the Sands patriarch himself, for whom the nearby road was named. Over the decades, it’s served as both residence and community meeting hall, apparently under county radar when it was a dwelling.“It’s escaped the ‘revenuers,’” Lant said. “I don’t even think it’s been taxed all these years.”Improvements were made over time, including interior sheetrock walls, modern plumbing and electricity, carpeting and appliances.The cabin was last occupied by the late Franklin Campbell, Lant’s father, who developed the 11-lot Walden Lane in the mid-1980s. But since his death in 1996, it has fallen into disuse and decrepitude.Languishing in eternal shadow amongst a grove of firs and pines, the building has a striking, if rugged, appearance. Rough-hewn log walls and a river-rock fireplace and porch give the building a quintessential “frontier” look. The roof is a thick mat of moss and needles, with a worn television antenna hanging at a skewed angle.Inside, the air is cold and dank, with mildew in wild mottles across the walls. Heavy snows a few years back caused extensive damage to one corner of the roof, and the upstairs bedroom is littered with torn insulation and debris from the ceiling.In the kitchen, the phrase “Escofier slept here” is carved in bold relief above an old range, a tribute to the one-time presence of a self-promoting chef.Basically, it’s a mess.Still, one gets the sense that in the right hands, with the commitment of time, money and perhaps faith, the cabin could be restored into something habitable.Or a garden shed. Something.“It seems like once a month, somebody will drive by and ask if it’s for sale or rent, or if it can be remodeled or something,” Lant said.The neighborhood association itself doesn’t want to put any money into the building and would simply like what’s become a “headache” to be removed, for a variety of reasons.For one thing, the school district recently purchased the parcel just south of Walden Lane for construction of the island’s next grade school.An abandoned mobile home on that property was a frequent, albeit unsanctioned, “hangout” for area teens for some time. The structure was the scene of rowdiness and ongoing vandalism until it burned mysteriously one night in 1997.Lant and neighbors agree they don’t want to see their cabin become a similar “attractive nuisance” that would draw kids for illicit activities.So it’s there for the taking, for anyone who wants to haul it off.“They can’t have the property it’s on – that’s the one firm thing,” Lant said.Anyone interested in the cabin can call Lant at 842-7389. The informal deadline is the end of the year.If no one expresses interest, it will go up in flames – poof – in a fire department practice burn.But seeing the cabin become its own pyre is not what Lant – or, she believes, her late father – would prefer.“He loved it, and he would shoot me right now if he knew I called the fire department,” Lant said. “But what do you do with it?”######”

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