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.

About Bryan Wendell 2817 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is senior editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.