Story by Ryan Newhouse
Photography Pioneer Log Homes
It all started in 1996, when John and Linsa Archer received their family property on the shores of Lake Chicot from John’s father, who had owned it since 1977. In the same year they became property owners, the Archers traveled to Branson, Missouri, for leisure and were taken aback by the log cabins and lodge at Big Cedar Lodge Resort.
Big Cedar Lodge and its stunning cabins were built by Pioneer Log Homes in Victor, Montana, an American company with a very selective approach to sourcing its logs. “We don’t bulldoze,” explains Rob Ridgway, head of sales for Pioneer Log Homes. “We find timbers that have already died and go in with a single chainsaw to fell them. We don’t believe in ripping out live trees. That’s not part of our environmental ethic.”
With that attention to detail, the Archers were inspired by what they experienced at Big Cedar Lodge and decided they wanted a Pioneer Log Home for their Lake Chicot property. The next weekend Rob and the Archers were shaking hands at a builders’ show in Louisville, Kentucky. Shortly thereafter, John sent Rob his plans for a log home, and work began at the Pioneer facility.
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“Each log for the handcrafted home was fit, and notched, and fit, and chiseled, and fit again before they came together perfectly. It’s always an art,” Rob explains. The Archers’ log home was built in Victor first, before each log was numbered, dismantled and trucked to the home site on the shores of Lake Chicot, accompanied by the foreman who built the structure in Montana.
“There is no limitation to where we can build a log home,” says Rob. “Since every home starts in our yard, it’s just a matter of getting them to the site for reassembly. And we like knowing that every structure we build can be said to be ‘Made in Montana.’”
“It was truly a ‘barn raising,’ as our family and friends gathered for the day and watched the house go up before our very eyes,” recalls Linsa.
Lake Chicot is a natural wonder, and a log home has a fitting aesthetic for the largest oxbow lake in North America, which measures about 22 miles from end to end. The lake was formed about 600 years ago by the meandering Mississippi River. A case for irony could even be made for having a lakeside log home here because Chicot is French for “stumpy,” so named for the many cypress stumps and trees along its bank.
For a family home, what the Archers asked Pioneer Log Homes to build was perfect for many years. The home had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a sleeping loft and a combined kitchen and living room. As their children outgrew bunk beds and began to marry, the first amendment to the home was to turn the storage house to a guesthouse. Then an outdoor kitchen and patio were added. Each time the Archers called on Rob to “send more logs.”
The eldest of John and Linsa’s three children, Ellen Mozingo of Jackson, graduated from Auburn University with a degree in interior design, so she was allowed to redesign the interior into a dressier cottage style, featuring colorful fabrics, window treatments and lots of local art.
A few years ago, John called Rob once more and explained that grandkids were now in the picture. The Archers needed more space, so Pioneer designed and sent over three more bedrooms to add to their log home.
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“That’s the beauty of handcrafting a log home,” says Rob. “We know exactly how to add to them in ways that fit the existing structure. We can do that because we build every structure one log at a time, whether it’s a gazebo or a resort lodge. They’re all a collection of the right logs for the right purpose.”
To emphasize the natural beauty of the logs, the Archers brought in a landscape architect to work around the home’s infinity pool with waterfall, hot tub, patio, docks and towering pecan and oak trees. “We literally enter the driveway, close the gates and have our own private getaway,” says Linsa.
Explore the Log Home Expansion
Stone, wood and steel come together to protect the Archers from the elements and flying pests in this screened-in living/dining area.
The great room blurs the line between indoors and out with its two-story windows and nearby doorway to the infinity pool area.
The quaint side entryway leads from the stone patio (complete with bubbling fountain) through the screened porch to the great room.
The master bedroom offers a private porch and ample natural light through the glass doors and windows.
Cool stone balances the warmth of the honeyed handcrafted log walls in the master bathroom.