HOW UNIVERSITY PARK'S LOG HOUSE CAME TO BE
by Patricia K. Gilmore
That landmark log cabin on South Jackson Street's "Cottonwood Lane" began in the minds of Essie and Otto (Zum) Zumwinkel in 1945. They discovered the beauty of this undeveloped part of University Park and decided to build here after the War.
What became Essie's dream home in 1948 turned out to be made of logs. Furthermore, this former teacher and mountain artisan turned out to be the one who personally peeled the logs in the living room and dining room. She wanted to make sure the workmanship met her standards, if you also think like her, click here to share your ideas with others.
Son Jack Zumwinkel, who later taught English at East High and wrote for the Allen’s Park paper, came home from the War in time to observe and help with the whole process. "Mother was the decision maker," he recalled.
She found an experienced log house builder in John Milliken of North Park to incorporate her ideas. He had built log houses earlier in the century and summer cabins at "Zum's Acres" in Allen’s Park.
Another of his mother's finds was stone mason Glenn Tallman. He built the floor-to-ceiling fireplace, "one of the finest examples of his work," according to Jack.
That fireplace came in handy when radiant heating was put into the flooring after the foundation was laid. It turned very cold and the fireplace saved the concrete from freezing.
"Mother was particularly proud of that radiant heating system," Jack said; and rightly so. It still invites bare feet on warm winter floors.
While good-natured Zum left decisions about the main house up to Essie, he had his own plans for the back of the 20,000 square foot lot. Practical business man that he was, he envisioned not just a garage but a work area for a three-stall log building. He roughed in plumbing "just in case."
This turned out to be a good thing later when a mother-in-law extension joined the house and garage, adding two more bedrooms, baths, kitchenette, etc.
Of all the family's communal efforts the most challenging came in getting the Forest Service-sanctioned logs from Rock Creek to Allen’s Park to 2474 S. Jackson. Jack and his dad took that task in hand.
With Jack's GI bill and his father's funds they bought an Army surplus 6X6 truck. "John (Milliken) showed me how to cut the logs, dock them, load them and boom them down with a chain and two-hook log boom," he remembered.
With help from two UC Berkeley classmates "and a small skid horse named Bess from wrangler Chuck Barnes, we got the loads to Allen’s Park." Zum took over to get the logs to Denver.
"Dad loaded the 6X6 as high as he could, boomed the load down and climbed into the cab." To his surprise the weight of the logs beyond the end of the truck bed had counterbalanced the weight on the front end. Zum then had to fill several gunnysacks with sand and mount them on the front bumper before he could steer the truck,
The rest of the story: "Our family enjoyed the use of that house from 1948 until Jack and Pat Gilmore, newspaper publishers from the West Slope, bought it and enjoyed it from the 60s on."
Especially in December: That's when Essie made a breathtaking Christmas wreath to deck the front door every Christmas until she died. The 2-inch thick pine slab door with its traditional wooden nails made the perfect frame for it.