Front Porch and Doorway

It cannot be stated with absolute certainty where the main entrance to the house was located nor how many doors the dwelling may have had, but circumstantial evidence indicates that it probably had only one door on the south side sheltered by a front porch or other type of overhang. In his 1978 book on Texas log homes, cultural geographer Terry Jordan describes single-pen, or single-room, log homes in detail and provides the evidence for what the Williamses’ log house probably looked like.

First, the rock chimney was located on the east side of the Williamses’ house, and almost all single-pen log houses in Texas had a gabled roof with the chimney on one of the gable ends. Almost all single pen log houses in Texas also had side-facing gables relative to a single doorway, and front porches with long overhanging eves were common. The single door was a practical matter, because having a second entrance would effectively remove too much of the usable floor space inside a small dwelling. The doorway was generally centered on one wall if the log house was square or nearly square, but the door was often offset on one long wall in rectangular single pens. This means that the Williams log home probably had a single door centered on the north or south side.

Prevailing winds in Travis County are southerly throughout the year, and it would have been important to take advantage of the breeze during the hot Texas summers. Conversely, the arctic cold fronts that often hit central Texas in the winter months produce bitterly cold, north winds. For these reasons, it is likely that the door of the Williamses’ log house would have been on the south side. Additional circumstantial evidence for a southern entrance is that the most concentrated portion of the trash midden is located only 29 to 43 ft (9 to 13 m) east of the southeast corner of the house. Rather than walking all the way around the house from the west or north side, it is logical to assume that one would walk out of the south-facing doorway and turn left for the shortest walk to the east edge of the yard to throw out their garbage.

From the inferred south wall of the Williamses’ log house, it is notable that another east-west line of rocks was present about 4 feet away, south of and parallel to the south wall. If the door was located in the center of the south wall as suspected, this second alignment of stones probably represents a line of foundation rocks skirting the south edge of a front porch. If the house was a single-pen log cabin and the family lived there for more than 30 years, it seems almost certain that it would have had a long overhanging eve and a front porch on the south side of the dwelling. Most of the small square and rectangular single-pen log cabins in Texas illustrated by Jordan had substantial overhanging eves or covered porches.

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