by Jonathan Morningstar
Let me introduce myself: My name is Jonathan Morningstar. I am an itinerant United Methodist pastor, which means that I can be moved to a new parish at any time. My wife Amanda and I are always one phone call from the bishop away from moving to a new town, which honestly can cause a little anxiety. The parishes that I serve provide my wife and I with a more than adequate parsonage, but we have always wanted a place to call our own!
We started looking at our options, and found the Tiny House Blog! It has been such a helpful resource in this process. We decided to locate our little cottage in a campground that my family has been attending for years. It is a century old revival type camp-meeting in central Pennsylvania. At this campground, there are many small cabins owned by families that have attended the meeting, often for generations.
My grandfather was a minister too, and his small cottage is just down the way from mine, now owned by my uncle. Through the bat and board siding, the sound of hymns and spiritual songs and spirited preaching comes wafting through the cabin in the humid late summer heat.
The Susquehanna river is just down the hill from the campground, where we often swim and fish. It’s a perfect place to relax. We lease a small tent pad, which our 10X16 cottage occupies. We had the cabin shell built by a local shed company, and delivered to the site. We then finished the interior. Four of the 16 feet is porch, but we decided to maximize space by locating a sleeping loft above the porch. This puts the interior at around 120 square feet, 160 if you count the loft. We’ve kept an open floor plan, having a corner for the “kitchen” and “office,” a sitting area, as well as a centrally located pot-bellied stove that provides heat. The stove is quite small, I found it at a local antique shop. The bolt holes on the legs have always left me wondering if it in fact started life in a railroad caboose.
A small secretary desk provides a valuable workspace; much of what I do as a pastor involves writing and reflecting, and this quiet location is a great place to focus on this task. Most of the furniture is reclaimed, or heirloom. The heavy oak love seat, rocking chair, and chair are from my great aunt, and were used at the campground 50 years ago. My mother has had them for as long as I can remember, but a few years ago gave them to me. They are now back home!
The antique brass lamp was my grandmothers. We’ve decided not to insulate the cabin, and instead have left the walls open, you can see the inside of the bat and board siding from the interior. Only being a three season cabin, we didn’t feel the need to insulate, the little wood stove easily heats the place during cooler spring and fall days.
The other reason we left the interior unfinished, other than to save a little money, is because leaving it “breathable” just feels more like the mood of the camp. Not too long ago, the campground was full of canvas tents, I slept in one as a kid. The canvas tents have been gone for a while now, and I believe the loss of the old wall tents takes a great deal away from the rustic feel of the camp. Our goal with our cabin was to make a space that was faithful to this “feel.”
Hope you enjoy our little cabin, which we’ve nicknamed “the revival.”