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Northern Kentucky log cabin transforms into a unique local art gallery

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This 200-year-old log cabin sits on North Jefferson St. in Burlington, Kentucky. It's now an art gallery called Cabin Arts Gallery,
Cheri Lawson
/
WEKU
This 200-year-old log cabin sits on North Jefferson St. in Burlington, Kentucky. It's now an art gallery called Cabin Arts Gallery,

A small set of wind chimes blows in the breeze on the porch of a quaint log cabin on North Jefferson St. in Burlington, Kentucky. Linda Whittenburg and her husband Dan bought the property in 1992 and refurbished it.

Linda Whittenburg stands next to a bell originally displayed on her grandfather's farm in Muhlenberg County. It is now proudly displayed next to Cabin Arts Gallery.
Cheri Lawson
/
WEKU
Linda Whittenburg stands next to a bell originally displayed on her grandfather's farm in Muhlenberg County. It is now proudly displayed next to Cabin Arts Gallery.

Whittenburg said at first, they opened it as a consignment shop and then for years as a quilt shop. And now Linda said, the authentic log cabin is an art gallery called Cabin Arts Gallery.

 “It’s at least 200 years old. The logs are mostly poplar. There’s a few walnut and oak but mostly poplar of course felled from this area," said Linda.

"I have people ask do they go all the way through, the logs. Of course, they do. You can see some of them are at least two foot wide. So, they were huge trees at the time. And they’re put together with what’s called chinking. Of course, at one time it would have been mud and straw and lime. We use pre-packaged five-gallon buckets now of chinking,” reported Linda.

This is a side view of the restored 200-year-old log cabin known as Cabin Arts Gallery. It's obvious where a small room was added to the back of the cabin.
Cheri Lawson
/
WEKU
This is a side view of the restored 200-year-old log cabin known as Cabin Arts Gallery. It's obvious where a small room was added to the back of the cabin.

“Are these the original logs but you and your husband had it refurbished? asked Lawson.

“We did all the work. We didn’t have it done. We did it. We bought it in ‘92’. It was completely covered in siding, cedar siding.  We bought it with the intention more or less to tear it down because it was a mess, in horrible shape, everything but the logs. The logs were perfect because they had been covered up for years and years and years. So that preserved them,” said Linda.

Paintings and photographs hang on the walls for the art show inside the Cabin Arts Gallery. Linda Whittenburg says the fireplace hearth is original.
Cheri Lawson
/
WEKU
Paintings and photographs hang on the walls for the art show inside the Cabin Arts Gallery. Linda Whittenburg says the fireplace hearth is original.

After Linda and her husband Dan decided to restore the cabin Linda said they opened it as a consignment shop on weekends. The couple consigned local arts and crafts and collectibles. But she says her goal was for the cabin to become a quilt shop and it did. From 1996 to 2019 the two-room cabin with a loft was a destination for quilters who traveled from Michigan to Florida and everywhere in Kentucky. Linda said she taught quilting in the small cabin she calls a cabinette next door that her husband built. Eventually, the shop held 8000 bolts of fabric.

“I’m a quilter. I made my first quilt when I was five years old. I really enjoy sewing and quilting. It’s just one of my favorite things to do, is sit down with my room full of fabric and have fun," explained Linda.

This piece of art made with fiber and acrylics was created by Linda Whittenburg.
Cheri Lawson
/
WEKU
This piece of art made with fiber and acrylics was created by Linda Whittenburg.

Besides being a quilter, Linda is also a teacher and multimedia artist. After attending Morehead State University and graduating from Northern Kentucky University she taught for 45 years. The 71-year-old said she had so much fun with the quilt shop and teaching but it was time to retire from those full-time endeavors. So, she decided to reinvent herself by opening an art gallery.

“I opened the gallery with the purpose of giving all my local art friends who I’ve known all these years a place to show and exhibit their work. This was my way of trying to give back,” said Linda.

It was important to her and husband Dan to re-restore the cabin and make it Cabin Arts Gallery.

“We so cherish this building because we have spent so much time and so much effort restoring it because we really value historic structures and our history. It’s our heritage, what we have left from our forefathers,” said Linda.

This plaque sits in front of Cabin Arts Gallery and tells its history.
Cheri Lawson
/
WEKU
This plaque sits in front of Cabin Arts Gallery and tells its history.

 The Cabin Arts Gallery is a great example of adaptive reuse of a historic structure. That’s according to Bridget Striker, preservation planner with the Boone County Planning Commission.

“It is within the Burlington Historic National Register District in Boone County. And the town itself dates back to about 1800 and is a great example of Boone County and Northern Kentucky heritage within the community,” said Striker.

Artist Keith Howard stands near one of his pieces featured in The Nature of Art: Paintings, Photos and Posies art show.
Cheri Lawson
/
WEKU
Artist Keith Howard stands near one of his pieces featured in The Nature of Art: Paintings, Photos and Posies art show.

 On this night Cabin Arts Gallery is holding its second art show opening called The Nature of Art -Paintings, Photos, and Posies. Dozens of patrons are enjoying the work of three local artists hanging on the cabin walls. The artists, Keith Howard, Norb Steuber, and Jan McKenzie Keene are happy to be part of the exhibit.

“It means so much because, honestly, I was raised about a mile from here and I grew up in Burlington and I have a lot of great memories of the town. I’m glad to be one of the very first of a three-person show. It just means the world,” said Howard.

Artist Norb Steuber stands near a few of his photographs displayed in the current art show at the Cabin Arts Gallery.
Cheri Lawson
/
WEKU
Artist Norb Steuber stands near a few of his photographs displayed in the current art show at the Cabin Arts Gallery.

“It’s great. I mean I think people have been looking for the opportunity to have a gallery local. And especially since I grew up in the area. I’m from Hebron originally. It’s nice to have a lot of familiar faces enjoying my art. It’s really is,” said Steuber.

“Linda is a gem and she’s contributed so much to the arts community and she knows a lot of artists. I’m real happy,” said Keene.

Artist Jan Mckenzie Keene poses near a few of her pieces featured in the art show.
Cheri Lawson
/
WEKU
Artist Jan Mckenzie Keene poses near a few of her pieces featured in the art show.

Linda Whittenburg said The Nature of Art exhibit is expected to be on display at Cabin Arts Gallery weekends through April 21st.

** WEKU is working hard to be a leading source for public service, and fact-based journalism. Monthly supporters are the top funding source for this growing nonprofit news organization. Please join others in your community who support WEKU by making your donation.

Cheri is a broadcast producer, anchor, reporter, announcer and talk show host with over 25 years of experience. For three years, she was the local host of Morning Edition on WMUB-FM at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Cheri produced and hosted local talk shows and news stories for the station for nine years. Prior to that, she produced and co-hosted a local talk show on WVXU, Cincinnati for nearly 15 years. Cheri has won numerous awards from the Public Radio News Directors Association, the Ohio and Kentucky Associated Press, and both the Cincinnati and Ohio chapters of the Society for Professional Journalists.
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