Former city council
member revitalizes historic cabin in Old Munichburg.

To many people in Jefferson City, Laura Ward is known for her passion for history and historic homes. She spent many of her eight years as a city council member working to preserve historic Jefferson City districts and buildings. For Laura, preservation is not just for the benefit of a historic district but for the entirety of the city.

“Preservation is good for our community in the sense of bringing people to our city from a tourist standpoint, but also to live, especially now when remote working is more acceptable,” Laura says. “People can live anywhere. I have many neighbors around me who are young newlyweds who chose to live in an old house because of its character.”

Her latest project has been a cabin restoration in Old Munichburg, a historic German neighborhood that still reflects much of Jefferson City’s history. Her cabin’s lot first sold for $24.18 on July 6, 1846. Laura and her husband closed on the antebellum cabin in November of 2021. The couple’s purchase was a leap of faith since there was no way to know the condition of the logs before purchase due to the layers of plaster, drywall, and siding concealing the original materials. 

“In the first area I chose to uncover, I found termite damage,”  Laura recalls. “It was really discouraging. So, I stopped in that location, and I jumped to another wall. That wall was good, so I jumped to another wall, and that wall was good.”

In a way, restoration is in Laura’s blood. Raised in an 1852 home in Franklin County, Laura watched her parents restore their house throughout her childhood. 

“Being a part of restoration at a very young age, I got to see things unfold and see the end results,” Laura says. “It instilled in me the belief that very few homes can’t be saved. Unfortunately, we lose far too many houses that are deemed unsavable. But, if you have the passion and the desire, you find a way.”

“Preservation is good for our community in the sense of bringing
people to our city from a tourist standpoint, but also to live…”


Laura and her husband refinanced their home to fund the cabin project. The equity from refinancing helped cover the purchase, renovations, and other expenses, which included log rehabilitation by Heritage Cabin Restoration, based out of Warrenton, Missouri. The team replaced damaged logs and the daubing between each log inside and outside. Laura, her husband, and a hired carpenter tackled the remaining restorations. 

The restoration was an incredibly thoughtful and detail-oriented process to achieve the cabin’s final look. The carpenter even custom-cut each piece of drywall so it could be flush against the walls to accommodate logs and metal brass outlets, which were soaked in a vinegar solution to rust the material and give an antiqued look.

Laura pulled from her collection of antiques and vintage finds to style the cabin. She has collected antique and vintage furnishings since college. Her mother used similar furnishings in their old home and has transitioned this interest into antique dealing. Laura and her sister occasionally assist their mother with out-of-state shows, which also helps fuel their acquisitions.

Laura’s most distinct cabin item is an early 1800s rope bed displayed in the cabin’s loft. After a person sleeps on the bed frame, the ropes become loose from the sleeper’s weight and need to be tightened again. A wooden tool called a bed key is used to tie or knot the ropes, bringing back the bed’s tautness. When sleeping on the rope bed, one lies on a ticking mattress, a linen or cotton bag filled with feathers, straw, or hay sewn shut. Rope beds are the origin of the phrase “sleep tight; don’t let the bedbugs bite,” due to the tightening of the frame and the high likelihood of bugs hanging out in piles of feathers and hay back in the day. It is a completely different experience compared to today’s mattresses. 

“Unfortunately, we lose far too many houses that are deemed unsavable.
But, if you have the passion and the desire, you find a way.”


Although Laura wanted to keep most of the cabin’s historical appearance, one of her most challenging projects was configuring the bedroom and bathroom to have modern amenities. This included tracking down a unique 42-inch crawl-foot tub to fit the makeshift bathroom perfectly.

After almost two years, in October of 2023, the cabin was finally fully restored. Laura has received bounds of love and community support for the cabin. While Laura and her husband have discussed making the cabin available on Airbnb for the warmer part of the year, its primary purpose is to educate. Laura envisions the cabin as a museum-like endeavor where elementary students can visit for field trips and step into a world from many, many years ago. 

Resources: Heritage Cabin Restorations | Joe McFerron Plumbing | Premier Property Services, Roofing
Rob Wiberg, Carpenter | Scruggs Lumber | Squared Nails Architectural Salvage | Thomas Electric