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‘Little House on the Prairie’ cabin set to be rebuilt

The cabin at the “Little House on the Prairie” site is a re-creation built in 1977 by the parents of Bill Kurtis and Jean Schodorf. It has since deteriorated, and the Little House on the Prairie board hopes to rebuild another, along with a stable.
The cabin at the “Little House on the Prairie” site is a re-creation built in 1977 by the parents of Bill Kurtis and Jean Schodorf. It has since deteriorated, and the Little House on the Prairie board hopes to rebuild another, along with a stable. File photo

The logs have been felled and the search is underway for some skilled craftsmen and volunteers willing to re-create some Kansas history.

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s little house on the prairie is about to get that scheduled makeover.

In 1977, the current Ingalls cabin was re-created and built near Independence at the height of the popularity of the TV series “Little House on the Prairie,” starring Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert.

The site, 13 miles southwest of Independence, is where Ma, Pa, Laura, Mary and baby Carrie Ingalls settled in 1869.

But four decades of Kansas storms and wind have taken their toll. The cabin is drooping and its logs are deteriorating. For safety reasons, its interior is no longer open to the public.

The two siblings who own the land want to change that. Bill Kurtis and Jean Schodorf want to build a new cabin and a barn like the Ingalls family had in 1869.

“We want to replace and build a new old cabin,” Schodorf said last week. “We will be using any of the materials that are salvageable for the new cabin. But really, that may be just the windows, floor and maybe the fireplace chimney.”

The cabin is scheduled to be built in October and November – after the tourist season winds down, Schodorf said.

So far, $30,000 has been raised to rebuild the cabin, but nearly $20,000 more is needed to help pay skilled craftsmen.

“We want to make it exactly like the old cabin,” she said.

When the Ingalls family built their cabin in 1869, it took three people, a horse and a wagon. Laura Ingalls Wilder would later write about how Pa used a hatchet to chop down the trees.

In 1977, it took the Kurtis family three months, 150 volunteers, chain saws and pickups to re-create the Ingalls cabin.

More than 20,000 people from around the world visit the cabin site each year.

“We get people coming here just to see the site because their child has read the book,” Schodorf said. “We want them to experience the prairie.”

Wilma Kurtis – Schodorf’s mother – inherited the farm from her grandparents, Bert and Lillian Horton. She and her husband, retired Brig. Gen. William Kurtis, lived on the property and, in 1968, discovered the farm was the site of the Ingalls homestead.

“We have been cleared for zoning and an environmental study that had to be done – all the modern regulations,” Schodorf said. “We’ve jumped through all the modern hoops and paid for an architectural study and signage and two sculptures.”

The two pinewood sculptures, created by Kansas City chain saw artist Stephen Higgins, are of Laura Ingalls and an Indian chief.

“Now we are hoping to get craftsmen who are knowledgeable on building cabins,” Schodorf said. “After that, we are hoping we will have volunteers who are knowledgeable of Kansas history and have strong backs to lift logs (to) … help us build the cabin walls.”

Schodorf said workdays will most likely be on Saturdays this fall.

“It is an amazing story about Kansas history, and we want to continue the dream,” Schodorf said.

Beccy Tanner: 316-268-6336, @beccytanner

To donate or visit

To donate or visit the Little House on the Prairie Museum near Independence, go to the museum, 2507 County Road 3000, Independence, KS 67301; call 620-289-4238; or e-mail Lhopmuseumks@gmail.com. You can also visit littlehouseontheprairiemuseum.com or the Little House on the Prairie Museum Facebook page.

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