Honest Abe Log Homes Makes Cabin Living a Reality
Based in the small community of Moss, Tennessee, Honest Abe Log Homes helps customers across the U.S. and beyond fulfill their dreams of owning a log home.
The family-owned company has deep roots that go back to 1968 – that was when Honest Abe’s founder, the late Doug Smith, began making mop and broom handles out of wood. In 1969, Doug established a sawmill, and in 1974, he and his father built a log cabin that his wife, Janie Smith, still lives in today. He got the idea for manufacturing log-cabin kits in 1975, and in 1979, Honest Abe Log Homes was incorporated.
“My dad wanted to live in a log cabin, and that’s really how this company got started,” says April Smith Patterson, Doug’s daughter and Honest Abe’s joint operating officer. “He was an engineer and entrepreneur, and our amazing team at Honest Abe is carrying on his legacy and vision today.”
Honest Abe Grows and Evolves
April says her father originally used tulip poplar logs to build homes because they were so plentiful in the area – after all, the tulip poplar is the state tree of Tennessee – but today, the company uses eastern white pine logs that are kiln-dried before they are milled at the Honest Abe manufacturing complex. The kiln-drying process lowers the logs’ moisture content to 18 percent or less, drastically reducing the wood’s propensity to shrink and creating a smooth, durable finish.
“Throughout the history of the company, several different tree species have been used, but we’ve settled on eastern white pine because it is readily available, grows quickly and works well for building and stacking,” says Josh Beasley, president of Honest Abe. “We use Douglas fir for things like heavy timber rafters, collar ties and ceiling beams because it’s perfect for spanning open areas, and is very strong.”
Although Honest Abe offers a wide variety of floor plans for customers to choose from, the company encourages clients to bring in their own ideas. Customers also have the opportunity to work with Honest Abe’s design and drafting team, helping to guarantee homes are built to suit their unique wants and needs.
“Every home we create is customized in some way, and many are very customized,” Josh says.
One of the company’s newest offerings are 10-inch round logs with a Swedish Cope profile, meaning they are round inside and out, with a half-moon-shaped groove on the bottom. Farm Bureau members April and her husband, Nick Patterson, currently live in the first Honest Abe home built with these logs – a model fittingly called the Patterson – which is open to the public for tours during special events.
“We love having people over, and we want to show everyone what living in a log home can look like,” April says. “We’ve stained our interior walls to demonstrate it doesn’t have to look super rustic, and you don’t necessarily have to live with tannish-brown log walls forever. You can stain and re-stain your walls to create a fresh look.”
Benefits of Log-Home Living
Both April and her brother, Shane Smith, who is Honest Abe’s chief operating officer, grew up in a log home, and she says she’s always known she wanted one of her own.
She points to the soundness of log homes and their durability, as well as their penchant for withstanding weather of all kinds. Plus, April says log homes are timeless, and because they’re built to last, they can serve families for many years.
“A big thing that appeals to me about log homes is the legacy they allow you to leave behind,” she says. “You can hand the home down from generation to generation, and that’s very special. It ties us back to our heritage.”
April also mentions how easy log homes are to heat and cool, which speaks to their energy efficiency, and Josh says that’s another reason many people choose to build homes with Honest Abe.
“Most of our clients come to us with an experience from their past that has created a desire for a log home,” Josh says. “However, others are interested in being good stewards of the land and conserving natural resources. Harvested trees require minimal inputs when they are processed, and stacked logs provide excellent insulation without additional materials, so we feel that we offer one of the most environmentally friendly ways to build a home.”
A Timeline of Honest Abe Homes
1968: Founder Doug Smith begins making wooden mop and broom handles.
1969: Doug establishes a sawmill called Green Forest Wood Products in Clay County, Tennessee. 1974: Doug and his father, Lemuel Smith, build a log home for Doug’s family.
1975: Doug gets the idea for manufacturing log-home kits.
1979: Rick Denton, Honest Abe’s first president, begins working for Doug as a research and development engineer, and Honest Abe Log Homes incorporates.
1980: The Shenandoah model home is completed, and Honest Abe makes its first sale to a family in Livingston.
1984: Kiln-dried logs become available as an add-on option, and a new timber-frame product is introduced.
1985: Honest Abe introduces the milled-D-style log-home product, which is still the most popular style purchased by customers today. The company’s construction department is created, and work starts on building Honest Abe’s 8,000-square-foot office facility in Moss, Tennessee, that continues to serve as its national headquarters.
1988: Honest Abe is ranked in the top 10 percent of 235 log home manufacturers by Log Home Living magazine.
1991: A new model home opens in Algood.
2000: A second model home opens in Algood.
2005: Honest Abe Living, a free 48-page magazine, is offered to the public.
2015: Honest Abe opens a new model home in Crossville.
2016: Honest Abe introduces new 10-inch round logs.
This year marks the 50th-year anniversary since owner Doug Smith started making mop handles in 1968. To share this milestone, Honest Abe is inviting everyone to come out to tour its companies and enjoy good food, music and free T-shirts (while supplies last). They will be giving tours, having door prizes and many other fun things for the family. There will also be informative speakers about forestry, how Honest Abe works to preserve and cut sustainably while being good stewards of the land, how they recycle and use every part of the logs and much more. The 50-year celebration at Honest Abe takes place Oct. 27. For more information, visit honestabe.com or call (800) 231-3695.