Rebuilding History Down to the Detail


Oella, MD  |  Completed with Rubeling and Associates in 2011

Photography by Megan Elcrat

An important teaching tool for the Benjamin Banneker Museum, the cabin of this preeminent critic of slavery adds to the understanding of Maryland history and the heritage of African Americans. Destroyed by fire long ago, the cabin design was a reconstruction rather than a restoration.

Intended to capture how the first African American man of science lived from 1737-1806, the reconstruction is based on extensive research and regional building traditions; the design reflects the most historically accurate representation possible.

Despite limited documentation, archeologists determined the size of the cabin through unearthed evidence of the stone foundation and hearth, while the nail scatter pattern suggested door and window locations. With help from the Maryland Historical Trust, details were explored from muntin profiles to the shape of each nail. Construction was completed using connections and details accurate to the 18th century, with only a handful of modern concessions descretely added to extend the life of the building.