5885 South 116th Street, Hales Corners, Wisconsin 53130
W. Ben Hunt
"Hunt influenced thousands, no tens of thousands of people. When you have a person with that much influence on so many people, he's important."
--Alan Pape, Log Cabin Expert
W. Ben Hunt (1888-1970) was born in the town of Greenfield, Wisconsin. He and his wife came to Hales Corners in 1920 to live in the house he had designed on Janesville Road.
Ben Hunt was a leader in the outdoor
movement and in the reintroduction of pioneer skills. He
introduced subjects such as rustic woodworking, whittling and carving,
metal working, and
historic Indian crafts and lore as hobbies and handicrafts for fun and
leisure-time activities. He was involved with the Boy
on a local and national level.
Did you know Ben Hunt, or learn from him?
If so, please let us know! Write us at the above address (or e-mail us) and tell us your recollections of Ben Hunt and your personal experiences with him or his writings. If you have old issues of Boys Life Magazine, the Historical Society would be pleased to add them to the society's collection. Donations can be left at the circulation desk of the Hales Corners Library (marked as a gift to the Historical Society), or mailed to us at the above address.
THE BEN HUNT CABIN
The main cabin (16 x 28 foot) was built during the summer of 1924. Ben Hunt, his brother, and father-in-law built it on Hunt's property on Janesville Road. They used only hand tools, beginning with sawing the logs to size right up to nailing down the last shingle. The main cabin was built of tamarack logs. Over the years additions were built from utility poles. The cabin became a gathering place for Ben's friends to socialize and pursue their hobbies. Young people were welcomed to learn from Ben and share his interests.In 1986, the Ben Hunt cabin was moved one-third of a mile from its original site. It is now located southwest of the Hales Corners library on the grounds of the W. Ben Hunt Center (5885 S. 116th Street, Hales Corners) and is owned by the Village of Hales Corners. The Hales Corners Historical Society is responsible for the preservation and upkeep of the cabin, and members of the Society serve as cabin guides. The cabin contains interesting artifacts and memorabilia related to Ben Hunt and native people. In January 2005, the cabin was designated a local historic landmark through the efforts of the Hales Corners Historic Preservation Commission.
Dugout Canoe is on Display
On display in the cabin is a dugout canoe made by W. Ben Hunt. Hunt made the canoe in 1945 from a basswood tree found near "Mud"(Upper Kelly) Lake. The canoe was made from a 14-foot length of the tree trunk which weighed one ton. Digging out the interior of the log was accomplished using an axe, adz, and Indian crooked knife. When it was finished, the canoe weighed only 175 pounds.
In June 1998 the canoe was donated to the Hales Corners Historical Society by Wayne Boldt. The canoe had previously been in the possession of Boldt's late father, Alton Boldt, who was a close friend of Ben Hunt. Stop by the cabin and see this interesting artifact!
Visit the Cabin!
The cabin is open to the public on the first Saturday of the month from May to November, between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m., and in December in conjunction with the Village of Hales Corners' tree lighting ceremony. Groups are welcome to schedule special tours at other times. There is no charge for tours, however donations to the Hunt Cabin Fund are always welcome.A whittling workshop, held in the cabin, is offered at minimal cost and is open to the public. For more information, please contact Bob Zeit by phone (414) 425-6040 or e-mail. In addition, the Hunt cabin may be used without charge by non-profit groups which serve a civic, cultural or educational purpose. To reserve the cabin, use the form available at the top of this page.
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