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Closing the doors on one of the country’s most unusual Scout meeting spots

Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in Buffalo, N.Y.

Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in Buffalo, N.Y.

Boy Scout log cabins, I’ve seen before. But a Scout cabin built inside a church?

That’s got to be one of a kind. Since its construction in February 1928, a Scout-built log cabin in the basement of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church has served as Buffalo, N.Y., Troop 2′s meeting spot.

But as this New York Times story points out, the 85-year-old cabin was dismantled yesterday as the church undergoes massive renovations. The church itself is on the National Register of Historic Places, so the exterior can’t be touched. But everything inside, including the Scout cabin, has to go to make room for the renovations.

Fortunately, it’s not all bad news for Troop 2. The church plans to rebuild the cabin inside its Community House, though it will be smaller and certainly won’t have the same cozy feel as the troop’s previous space.

“Times change; what can we do?” the troop’s Scoutmaster, Edward D. Hughes, told the Times. “We have to deal with the hand we’re dealt.”

You should really read the entire Times story to get a sense of how magical this place was, but I have to share my favorite part:

Clinton E. Brown, 60, a local architect and preservationist, was a Troop 2 member from about 1960, when he was 7, to about 1967.

“There’s magic in that place,” Mr. Brown said. “Hand-hewn benches. Antique sconce lighting. I never saw the discontinuity. It was dimly lit and the floor so dusty you could imagine it was dirt. I was a kid in a magical log cabin in the middle of the city that I thought was perhaps built by Abraham Lincoln.”

It’s the ultimate testament to Scouting will to dream big and follow through, as described in this architectural analysis:

It was both a place for fun and recreation but also a place for learning the moral and social lessons of the Boy Scouts of America. Completed under the direction of the new Scoutmaster W.H. Douglas, the log cabin was an act of teamwork, development and cooperation between the boys of Troop 2.

It was noted as being designed by the boys, constructed of logs from the Boston (N.Y.) Hills which were likely hewn by the boys, and constructed by the Scouts. The fireplace construction taught the boys lessons in craftsmanship and building in the medium of stone. The interior of the log cabin was intended to be decorated with items which reminded the Scouts of their accomplishments and achievements including trophies, plaques and ornaments.

The log cabin served both as a marketing strategy for enlarging the troop membership (for what young boy could resist meetings in a real log cabin), but it also served as a project which promoted real experience with construction, teamwork and other social goals promulgated by the Boy Scouts of America.

How lucky were the Scouts of Troop 2 to have this cabin as part of their Scouting experience. Let’s hope the rebuilt version can recreate some of the charm of the original.

Does your troop meet somewhere special?

This got me thinking: What other unique Scout meeting places are out there? If you know of one, leave a comment below or send me some photos.


Photo via Brett Carlsen for The New York Times

H/T: Thanks to Baltimore Scouter J.D. Urbach for sending me the idea.

13 Comments on Closing the doors on one of the country’s most unusual Scout meeting spots

  1. This is AWESOME!!!

  2. Deaf Scouter and Eagle Mom // April 17, 2013 at 11:00 am // Reply

    How COOL!!!

  3. Troop 1 in Tulsa, OK also has a meeting in a “Log Cabin” in the basement of 1st Presbyterian Church of Tulsa. Troop 1 is the oldest troop in the Indian Nations Council, the oldest Troop in Oklahoma, and one of the oldest in the nation. Troop 1 was founded on May 10, of 1910. http://troop1tulsa.com/aboutus

    • Cool! Thanks for sharing that awesome meeting spot! Here’s a picture of the cabin Ken’s talking about:

      Troop 1 Tulsa

  4. Dave Turner // April 17, 2013 at 12:17 pm // Reply

    Our Troop 111 originally chartered in1919 stll meet in a cabin in Gloucester, Va.

  5. Hawk Mountain Council, Reading, PA, also has a troop that still meets in a log cabin in the basement of a church. It is Troop 154 chartered to Bellemans Union Church in Dauberville, PA. It was formerly Troop 1 of Dauberville, PA. Larry Henne has been Scoutmaster since 1966, 47 years. It was chartered in 1935 and has been active for 78 years. When it was chartered, church members soon set up a meeting room in the church basement, and the troop moved its meetings to that space, which was set up with log walls. When the troop was moved to a new area, the logs were moved with it. A photo of the indoor log meeting area is posted at: http://scouters.us/images/Troop154Dauberville.jpg

    Another Hawk Mountain Council Troop meets in a haunted house. Troop 755 of Clamtown, PA, was chartered in 1954 and has met in a haunted house since 1966 in what was originally the Reynolds School, a one-room schoolhouse. For about 25 years they have made their meeting place into a fully Pennsylvania licensed “haunted amusement.” every October for Halloween. A photo of the haunted house is posted at http://scouters.us/images/Troop755Clamtown.jpg

  6. Wozzo the Wonder Dog // April 17, 2013 at 3:33 pm // Reply

    Not legal advise but I don’t think churches are restricted by placement on the National Register of Historic Places. I remember reading a case that reached a state supreme court, Washington as I recall, and the state supreme court unanimously held that the church’s First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution trumped the requirement restricting remodeling for a church that was on a state historic list.

  7. LENNY JENNINGS // April 17, 2013 at 11:39 pm // Reply

    TROOP 276 “The Mountain Men” of Palos Verdes Estates, California met outdoors under God’s sky for 45 years. Slept under the stars without with rattle snakes and them tharrrr bears. NO TENTS!

  8. Awesome! Very interesting, I hope someday I will be with a unit that can truly call their meeting “their own”. This is what Scouting is all about, too many units have lost a sense of purpose, identity, heritage, and personality with being forced to use just “Another Room” in the building where they meet.

    Scouting heritage today is being forgotten at alarming rates and this must be curtailed. Example question…………..”Which youth in your unit would A) Know who Baden Powell is B) his significance in Scouting and finally C) why is he so important to understanding Scouting as a worldwide youth serving organization?”

  9. chinapete65 // April 19, 2013 at 9:39 am // Reply

    I was an ASM and SM for Troop 41, Yokota AB, Japan, 1970 – 1972. We had a Scout Hut where we met in the West Housing Area. The headquarters and studios of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Services’s Far East Network now sits where the Troop 41 Scout Hut stood.

  10. our troop was chartered in 1912 or 1923 depending on the source, but the church was built in 1931 and for the longest time there was the Scout Room complete with timbers and a deer head. When the church underwent a significant renovation in 2004-06, the scout room disappeared.. we still have the timbers, there are stored safely away, but a Scout room is history. Occasionally, we’ll find an adult wandering around the basement looking for the scout room and the troop… we are here – http://www.wheatontroop35.org – this week we are camping in Orgeon, IL near the Rock River…

  11. Since the mid 1970s, Troop 258 in Canby, OR has been meeting in their own wooden A-frame Lodge. http://www.troop258canby.com/

  12. our troop was founded in 1911, the 2nd oldest troop in our region by 30 minutes, yes the other troop had it’s paperwork signed 30 minutes before ours. We came from another organization, where a farmer had built a clubhouse for boys in his field. this had run for several years prior to Scouts coming to the US and once the scouting movement came to NC they joined the ranks. That said Troop 11 lost an entire camp when troops lost the ability to own property. We had several acres and a cabin, which is still there apparently but is no longer owned by any scouting organization. I love the concept of the Scout Hut, wish we had one, wish every troop had one, but working inside the confines of the BSA rules I don’t even know how one would manage to make this possible.

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