A Construction Project

I have a real affinity for Lincoln Logs. I would spend hours as a child creating structures. Invariably, my dad would help with the structures—and then "accidentally" knock them over, just so we would have to rebuild. Lincoln Logs were invented around 1916 by J.L. Wright, the sone of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. They were patented in 1920. You can view a copy of the patent here. It's a pretty interesting read.

I also love beautifully decorated store windows. You rarely see the big store windows with ample space for displays in new stores. Growing up, I live just north of Chicago at the Great Lakes Naval base. Our mom would often take us to downtown Chicago on the train. We would window shop, looking at the beautiful displays and usually have lunch with one of her relatives, often at the Walnut Room at the flagship store of Marshall Fields & Co. on State Street. These excursions would be particularly magical as the Christmas season neared. The windows of all the major department stores would be decorated, often with animated displays. Lunch at the Walnut room meant lunch under the Great Tree—a three story high tree decorated with a different theme every year. I always wanted to be a window designer, long before I even knew that was an actual job. After my dad retired from the service, we moved to rural Indiana where the department stores were smaller and fewer and my career took a vastly different path.


A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to rent a booth in a lovely little new shop in Bourbon, Indiana—The Standard Antiques and Ice Cream. They had two display windows in the front of the shop. They offered them to the antique dealers as space on a rotating basis but very few of the dealers ever took advantage of this perk. I proposed to the owners that I would come up with a theme every few weeks and use the inventory of the booths to decorate the window. They went for it! And I realized a childhood dream of decorating store windows!



For the November/December window this year I had an idea based on a Christmas tree I had created several years ago. I had decorated a tree using Lincoln Logs as a base and a tree topper. You can see the project here. I thought about how large of a base for a tree that I could build. I often see Lincoln Logs at auctions and garage sales. If they aren't in their original containers, they are in a box as shown below. Random set(s) with who know how many pieces may be missing. I bought up as many random sets as I could in the last few months.

Last Monday, I started building. I separated the sets according to type and size. I used small storage tubs to separate each type.

I had measured the window so I knew the limitations on the depth. I also knew I needed to be able to transport whatever I built in my Jeep Grand Cherokee so even though I wanted to build something BIG, there were limitations.

I used a piece of 2 ft x 4 ft Masonite to build upon to help move it just in case I wouldn't be able to pick up the entire structure in one piece. I did a rough outline of the footprint. I put the tree I was using in place so I would know how high to build it. Let's be honest, I was doing everything by trial and error, not knowing if I would have enough of any one size of Lincoln Log to actually complete it. I was flying by the seat of my pants.

I needed the structure to hold together so I drilled a hole in the connecting points of each log and used a dowel rod and e6000 glue to hold it together.



Over a couple of days it began to take shape. Then I had to start thinking about how to do the roof. The green roof slats are limited in size, so I had to figure out how to cover as much as I could in each section with the slats sizes I had.

Piece by piece it came together.

It took three days, but it finally all came together. The two roof sections in the middle are not attached so the tree can be transported separately. The morning I was decorating the window was the moment of truth. I picked it up—and it held together. It actually wasn't that heavy and it was easy to load into the Jeep.



Thhe theme for this window was Log Cabin Christmas. I was able to find a Lincoln Log wagon (at the far right of the above photo with the Santa blow mold in it). I found a little truck and added a Christmas tree to the back of it. I put LED lights on the inside of the cabin so light would show through the windows and doors. Of course, I ad to have a full set of Lincoln Logs in the can for sale.


A couple of weeks ago, I saw this Playskool western horse toy at an auction. I had to have it for the display! A cowboy playlet perfectly complemented the display as well. I also added a 1972 Alden's Christmas catalog opened to, you guessed it, the page with Lincoln Logs on it. Who else remembers spending hours with Christmas catalogs circling the toys you wanted for Christmas? We did that with the Sears Wishbook, the Montgomery Wards catalog and the Alden's catalog.



I was really happy with the finished window. I wanted to create a magical window where you could spend several minutes looking at the details. Hopefully, I accomplished that. If you are in Northern Indiana, take a 2 minute jaunt off of US 30 and stop in at the Standard, grab a treat on the bakery/ice cream side and peruse the antique side. You will find it is time well spent!


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Whether my junk is from a garage sale, estate or farm auction, flea market or the side of the road, I love to find it, fix it, clean it, sell it or keep it. So come along the backroads of Indiana with Junk is My Life (me), let's find something vintage and do something cool with it! Formerly Junk Journal.