The Oak Leaf - October 2017

By Lynn Gastineau
President of Gastineau Log Homes, Inc.

Welcome to the October 2017 issue of The Oak Leaf! For new readers, this is a monthly newsletter that is sent by e-mail to those that have expressed an interest in Gastineau Log Homes. We use this as a way of communicating technical, design and industry information. For more information, check out our web site at

Please "Like" Gastineau Log Homes on Facebook! There are LOTS of photographs of our homes in the Photo section!



HAPPY BIRTHDAY GASTINEAU LOG HOMES!! Today, October 1, 2017, Gastineau Log Homes is 40 YEARS OLD!

We thought this would be a good opportunity to look back at how the log homes of 2017 compare to the log homes 40 years ago. Hope you enjoy a trip down memory lane and some background on how the concept of modern log home living even began....

Trivia Question: What year did Elvis perform his last concert, Apple II and Commodore PET personal computers were first sold, Rocky won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Gastineau Log Homes went into business? (See the answer at the end of the newsletter.)

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This was the first Gastineau Log Home ever built. It was built by the manager of Gastineau Lumber & Pallet Co in Holts Summit, MO. In essence, it was a "test house."

Why did people start wanting to build and live in a log home? In the 1970's, a "Back to Nature" movement gained popularity. As part of this movement, people began going to sawmills and asking them to cut logs for construction of a new log home; usually a log home they were going to build themselves. It is worth noting that the modern log home industry is a result of consumer demand. Log homes had not been popular since the 1800's when they were a sturdy, easy to build option for settlers as the moved West across the US. In the early/mid 1970's, the sawmills, builders, architects and realtors took note of this consumer interest and a fledgling log home industry began. But the reasons people wanted a log home in 1977 are the same reasons today: a natural home that is strong, safe, beautiful and will last for hundreds of years. From 1977 until today, people tell me the feeling of safety and warmth you feel living in a log home cannot be gotten from any other type of construction.

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This was our first ad in a log home magazine. It was Log Home Guide magazine of 1980. Black and White ad of course!

What were the challenges of the early log home industry? Pretty much everything. There had not been any Research and Development on the best way to build a log home. Other than the research that was done in the 1930's by the Forest Products Lab, there was not a lot of testing done on wood species for anything other than strength. There were no grading standards for solid wood timbers. Nobody knew (for sure) how to build a log wall that was going to remain energy efficient and structurally stable. But people wanted to build them so we developed systems and methods that either had been used in other construction industries or what "made sense" at the time. Remember that these log home companies were small private companies. This was not an industry where Weyerhauser or some large company was going to pour millions of dollars into research! We were doing the best we could with the information and knowledge we had at our disposal. (Remember, this was the 70's, before the internet or cell phones or even fax machines!) And nobody knew how long this industry was going to last! Was it a fad? Would everyone get tired of building log homes in a few years? None of us had a clue.

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In response to the issues we faced, in 1981 a group of log home companies met in Lake Placid, NY and started the North American Log Builders Association. NALBA. This group merged into the smaller Log Home Council in 1994. Yes, that is me standing in the front row next to the man in the green jacket..

What types of homes did people buy? The average home was probably between 1500 and 2000 square feet, and usually a story and a half design with at least a full length front porch. Most of the time the master bedroom was on the second or upper level floor. People wanted everything "rustic." Rough cut beams inside, rough cut trim, unsanded logs and beams inside, etc. "The more rustic the better." The roof was either shingles or a wood shake. A lot of people wanted natural wood windows and doors inside and out vs a cladding on the outside. Almost every home had a wood burning fireplace or stove; no gas. Some log homes seemed dark because they did not have a lot of windows and sometimes the first floor was less than 8' tall. But the customers were happy. The homes were energy efficient and strong and beautiful. In our first year of business, we sold 26 homes.

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Our first true model home was buit in 1979. It was our Missourian design, which was our most popular design for 20 years. This building is the cornerstone of our current national headquarters in New Bloomfield but has been added onto 4 times and is now over 10,000 square feet.

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This was one of our first "plan books." This is from 1984. Everything was drawn by hand; there were no CAD systems or electronic files.

By the mid 1980's....... it appeared the log home industry was here to stay! The Log Home Council had been formed and the industry joined forces to tackle the grading and code issues that were a threat to our existence. Log home magazines were being found on the newsstand. Other magazines and publications were featuring articles on the popularity of log homes and showing some of the beautiful homes that were being built.

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In May 1989 we were featured on the cover of the Log Home Guide magazine. By this time the magazine featured homes in color.

But early in the 1990's....... Gastineau Log Homes made the decision to put make a significant investment in researching better ways to build a log home. We went so far as to cut sections out of older walls to see "what the logs were doing on the inside." As I told the staff, "We don't make log homes. Mother Nature does. We just cut them. So lets find out how we can work with Mother Nature to build a better log home!" As a result of our research, we totally changed our building system. It has been tweeked since 1994, but that system has been proven to work exceptionally well. We developed a combination of sealants and profile that allows the wall to get tighter over time and provides the only Life Time Warranty on caulking of the exterior joints. And by switching to screws, we eliminated the need for spikes!

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This is how we drove in a spike every 16" of each log row prior to 1994 when we upgraded to log screws. This photo is of a Japanese gentelman trying his hand with a 5lb sledge hammer! We started exporting to Japan in 1987.

Therma Log Siding developed: In the late 80's/early 90's, we saw a need for an Oak half log siding with full log corners. This product could stand on it's own as a siding for a new or existing home. Or it could be used to compliment a full log home on the dormers or garages or second story exterior walls.

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This was our first Therma Log siding being produced ain 1987. Yes, we picked it up off the line by hand. Today, this is automated!

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This was the first "All Thermalog" home we sold. It is on a lake in Michigan.

Move to new manufacturing location: We had been producing logs in the same location and in 1994 we realized that we needed a bigger location that would allow us to make the improvements we had developed through our R&D. We purchased 40 acres and built a new facility about 5 miles from our offices.

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Our mill in 1994. We needed a new, bigger location with more machining options.

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Our current manufacturing facility which has room and capacity for growth.

First Home Inside of the Mall of America: In 1994, in conjunction with Midwest Living magazine, we built the first home inside of the Mall in Minneapolis. The 2400 sq ft home was on display for three months. Then it was raffled off and generated over $300,000 for the Greater Twin Cities Childrens Cancer Society. Since we were the "first" to do this in the Rotunda of the Mall, there were a lot of logistics that we had to resolve. It was a wonderful project. The following December, a 12 page feature article described the home and project.

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Log Homes Made Easy by Jim Cooper: During the 1990's, Jim Cooper was a dealer for GLH in the Frederick, MD area. Jim was an award winning photographer and writer prior to his venture into log home construction. Jim wrote the "how to" book for log home construction which was the #1 seller on Amazon. All the photos in the book are GLH homes. This book is still available for sale and has been updated twice.

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This was Jim's personal home and this is the photo that is on the front cover of his book "Log Homes Made Easy." It is our standard pla the "Oakridge."

Moving into the next century:In 2000, we decided to move our model home center to a new location on I70. This would allow us more visibility and the ability to add model homes. So we bought property at Exit 144 east of Columbia MO. Today we have three homes on the property that can be toured.

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The model home center is open 7 days a week for you to come and visit.

Here is to another 40 years! In 40 years, we have homes in all 50 states and 12 countries, with Mongolia being #13 in a few months. So the answer to my 1977 self is: "Log homes are here to stay! They are not a fad!"

My son has been working at Gastineau Log Homes for 12 years. I don't think I will make another 40, but perhaps he will! We have been blessed to have wonderful dedicated staff, some of which have been here over 25 years. My thanks and gratitude goes to every customer, supplier, vendor and employee that I have had the privilege of meeting and working with since 1977. You have made it an honor to work for and with you. And after 40 years, I still enjoy getting up and coming to work every day. Thank you to all.

Construction Seminar Schedule for 2017:

October 7, 2017

Click here for information on our one day construction seminars.

Log Raisings:

Watch next month for another log raising!

Home Show:

No more home shows until Spring 2018.

Open Houses:

Remember that the GLH Model Home Center on I 70 in central MO is open 7 days a week. Starting after Thanksgiving, we will be closed on Sundays. We have three houses there that you can tour!

Answer to Trivia Question: 1977!

Quote of the month:"It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer."--Albert Einstein

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