Originally created 05/12/02

Cabin fever



Summertime to young Tripp Morris meant sleeping in the loft at his grandfather's log cabin in North Augusta and swimming in a nearby pond where a waterwheel turned to make electricity.

After the death of his grandfather, John Morris, the one-bedroom cabin fell into disrepair.

"I think they were going to tear it down. It was really in bad condition," said Venus Morris, Tripp Morris' wife.

When they married 10 years ago, they thought it would make a great fixer-upper, though their friends were less convinced.

The cabin, built by the Southern Cypress Manufacturing Company, was part of a display at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. The president of the company, B.R. Ellis, had the cabin dismantled and shipped south to a 31-acre wilderness in North Augusta. It was the Ellis home until his widow sold it to John Morris in the 1960s.

When they closed the deal, the widow handed him the key, picked up her bags and left, said Tripp Morris, vice president for Augusta Environmental Contracting, a company that specializes in asbestos abatement.

The 2,200-square-foot cabin originally had one bedroom. The Morrises' four children - John, 6, Julia, 4, Alexis 2 and Sydney, 4 months - share a glass-enclosed room that once served as a porch.

The walls of the cabin are cypress, but seven woods are used in the flooring. Though the flooring in the children's room "is the prettiest," Mrs. Morris said, it is carpeted wall-to-wall in gray.

An area rug, in pure reds, blues and yellows, depicts a hop-scotch game. Strings of tiny white lights criss-cross the room, just below the ceiling.

The loft where their father slept as a boy is above the former porch. The two older children can climb a ladder to go up to play.

A larger play space is in the guest house not far from the main house. Between the two houses they have more than 4,000 square feet, Mrs. Morris said. The guest house, originally a woodworking shop, now has a suite with a bedroom, a half-bath and a living room. It is one of the few places where the Morrises used drywalling to create rooms. They also carved out part of the attic for an upstairs play area. The rest is used for storage.

Grandfather Morris added a kitchen and bath to the main house. The Morrises replaced the kitchen windows with distinctive, circular -framed windows that match those in the cabin originally.

They also added wooden countertops to keep the all-wood look in the kitchen. "We tried not to make it too fancy," Mrs. Morris said. "We wanted something that would blend and not take away from the cabinets."

The "very, very small" bathroom is the only one in the cabin. Though they did not enlarge it, the Morrises redid it three times before settling on its current arrangement, one without a shower. Polyurethane protects the walls from moisture.

A chifforobe and a couple of chests in the bedroom ease the storage crunch, she said. "We just have to be very tidy. We don't have clothes we don't use."

There's not a curtain in sight. "Actually, my mother-in-law one year tried to give them to us for a present," she said.

Each window was measured individually because they are not standard. But after the treatments were hung, her husband changed his mind.

"It just takes everything away from the cabin," he told her. "I feel like I am in a box. No one is going to see us. If they want to see us that bad, they can see us."

The top treatments stayed, but the curtains came down.

Information about the home

Owners: Tripp and Venus Morris

Location: North Augusta

Square Footage: About 4,000, including guest house

Age and Style: cypress cabin, built for 1933 Chicago World Fair

The essentials: Two bedrooms, one bath, kitchen, dining, family and laundry rooms

Decks: two

Other structures: Storage shed, guest house with half bath

Property: 31 acres with dam, waterfall and bridge

Why this house?: Ten years ago, they thought the house, part of a family estate, would make a good fixer-upper for a couple of newlyweds like themselves.

Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336 or vanorton@augustachronicle.com.