Houses: One-and-a-Half Story

The single-pen, or one-room, house with an overhead sleeping loft comprised 65 percent of the log houses that Warren surveyed in southern Indiana. This type of house had a rectangular floor plan and measured on average 24 feet long by 18 feet wide. The longer, non-gabled wall was the front wall, featuring a central door with one window on each side. Two windows were located in the back wall in precisely the same position. The fireplace and chimney were centered in one of the gable-end walls. Inside, an enclosed staircase tucked into one corner made a 90 degree turn up to the sleeping loft. 

The single-pen is a basic building block. When built side-by-side with a common center partition wall, the result is a double-pen house. Forty-six percent of the surveyed log houses were double-pens. Each pen had its own front door centered in a wall and its own fireplace and chimney centered in the gable-end wall. A single staircase in one of the pens led to the sleeping loft.

"It would seem that the most compelling reasons for this consistency in form concern the way in which the room is heated, ventilated, and lighted. It must be true that a rectangular room of the dimensions given above can be adequately heated and lighted by a single fireplace located in the center of a short wall. Both heat and light radiate from a fireplace in a predictable way, and it will be noted . . . that there are two “dead spots” in the corners of the room (beside the fireplace) which the radiating heat and light will not reach. One of these is taken up by the staircase so that there is, in effect, only one “'ead spot' in the room, and it is comparably small."

Warren Roberts, Log Buildings of Southern Indiana, 1996, 130-131.