Historic log cabin stolen from Wildwood found; suspect charged
WENTZVILLE • Carl Essen and his relatives were elated to hear this year that the city of Wildwood was taking steps to preserve a historic log cabin built by their ancestors in the 1870s.
But before the city could finalize plans to relocate the cabin, it vanished.
“I was blown away,” Essen said of the cabin-napping.
Last weekend, word started spreading that someone had disassembled and stolen the cabin. It happened sometime between Nov. 24 and 29, police said.
Essen feared that once it got out that police were looking for the cabin-napper, the thief might try to discard the wood.
Happily for Essen, the cabin was recovered in pieces outside an apartment house in Wentzville, and a man who lives there was charged Friday with stealing them.
Gregory T. Cole, 54, was named in St. Louis County Circuit Court on one count of stealing over $25,000, and held in lieu of $40,000 bail.
An anonymous tipster told St. Louis County police that the timbers were behind the apartment building in the 600 block of Scotti Court in Wentzville. That’s where Cole lives. Authorities put the value of the loot at $50,000.
Police said Cole admitted the unusual theft, saying he had grown up near the cabin and was familiar with it. He said his mother still lived in that area. He said he had planned to sell the pieces.
It appears that Cole is the same man who was charged with felony burglary and misdemeanor harassment after being found sleeping in an unoccupied bedroom in the home of strangers in Wentzville on Oct. 4.
In that case, a man in his underwear and a shirt was found about 7:20 a.m., sleeping in a 5-year-old girl’s empty bedroom in a home on Brian Court. The child found him after spending the night in another room.
Sgt. Brian Schellman said it appeared that all the parts of the log cabin were recovered. He said a rented box truck was used to haul the 50 logs, each measuring 10 inches by 6 inches by 20 feet.
Two sisters who own a 250-acre tract where the cabin sat off Highway 109, just south of Eatherton Road in Wildwood, had planned to donate the building to the city.
The cabin has “high historic value,” according to a contractor consulted by the city about moving it. When it disappeared, only the foundation and roof were left behind.
Though the city was seeking bids to have the cabin disassembled and relocated, the “free” disassembly could end up costing the city more.
Greg Barth, acting chairman of the Wildwood Historic Preservation Commission, said each timber had to be marked in order when taken down so a contractor could easily reassemble the cabin. Now, he said, it’s going to be a little bit more “labor intensive.”