[Editors Note: Attraction Spotlight is a weekly series that highlights a different SDC attraction each week]
Nestled deep in a back corner of the park where only a handful of SDC’s modern-day guests come across it, Birdle’s Cabin is an intriguing piece of the old time Ozark heritage that SDC was created to celebrate. The cabin was originally been built in 1916 as part of the Mannon homestead in Brownbranch, Missouri, and was the home of a reclusive Ozarkian named Birdle Mannon. Birdle lived in this tiny two room cabin for 83 years until her death in 1999. The cabin was donated to SDC by Mr. and Mrs. Leon Combs and was setup in the main square for awhile before being moved to its current location behind the 1915 J.S. Case Steam Tractor in the back corner of the Homestead area of the park.
Birdle’s Cabin has been setup to be a living history exhibit, with the interiors kept virtually the same as they would have been around the end of the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Features of the cabin include newspaper-insulated walls and antique furniture. The cabin was open for guests to walk around in until a few years ago when a cage was installed to keep guests from tampering with the antiques. This prevents guests from entering very far into the cabin and getting a good look at some of the intriguing details, or the bedroom.
Unfortunately, the cabin seems to have been more or less forgotten about by the park and was beginning to fall into obvious disrepair as of my last visit to it last Christmas. Few visitors can even find the cabin or assume that it is a guest area. There are no signs leading to it, and the park doesn’t even mention it on its website or park map. I’m afraid that this is yet another piece of Ozark legacy that will quietly disappear from SDC unless it is noticed and spoken for. The location in a quiet corner of the park probably does not make it easy for SDC’s corporate owners to “justify” investing in its upkeep, but I think a large contingent of SDC’s patrons would appreciate discovering more about this section of the park. I also think there are some yet-unexplored opportunities for SDC to bring back more of its living history concepts to a new audience, and this cabin could be useful for that.
Birdle’s cabin is one of several authentic and historical relocated log buildings on SDC’s property, the others include the McHaffie Homestead, Oak Hill School House, and Wilderness Church.