Kinsella Log Cabin at Pleasant Ridge Park

Historic log cabin.
The Kinsella log cabin is a 2-story structure which was built around 1854. The cabin is constructed of hand-hewn logs, measuring from 8 to 18 inches in diameter. The bark that was stripped from the lumber was stuffed between the logs and then filled with plaster. The first floor was probably L-shaped, and the second rectangular. A brick chimney runs through the center of the home and was probably used by wood burning stoves on either side. The log cabin was moved approximately 150 feet east of its original location. It now sits on a concrete foundation with a crawl space. A rear addition was added around 1920 at which time the log exterior was covered with siding.

The Kinsella property was originally purchased from Cornelius and Eve Rittenhouse by William Kinsella for $200 on September 28, 1880. The log cabin was then dedicated on September 19, 1976 to the City of Fairview Heights at Pleasant Ridge Park. The Log cabin received a face-lift on the front portion on the cabin in 1993. The worn wood beams were replaced with hand-hewn logs to keep the integrity of the log cabin. The log cabin is not opened to the public at this time.

The log cabin has a special place with the City, in that it is the oldest structure in a relatively modern city. In 1840, during the great potato famine, William Kinsella left his home in Dublin, Ireland and immigrated to Caseyville Township to seek his fortune. There he worked as a carpenter with the B and O Railroad, building a trestle and laying ties for the new line.

During his breaks he would rest at the crest of the hill overlooking the railroad and he eventually decided to buy the acreage and build a lean to on the property. He was so impressed with the beauty of the trees, especially in the fall, that he named the area “Pleasant Ridge”.

After the line was finished he married Anna S Connely from Wexfort, Ireland in 1850. Using the wood from the nearby trees, he built a two-story log cabin of hand-hewn logs. In their new home Anna and William farmed and raised the first generation of U.S. Kinsella's - three sons and five daughters.

The homestead was left to his youngest son, Lawrence, who married Emily Townie in the early 1900's. They raised their nine children Prosper, Tom, Stella, Gart, Joe, Mary, Cyriel, James and Bernard in the log cabin. Between the years 1920-1925 Lawrence built an extension to the log cabin and covered it with white wooden siding to preserve the wood.

After his death, the farm was passed on to Cyril who was married to Rita O'Brien. They continued to farm and raised their children Larry, Kenny, Dennis and Susan in that house.

In 1960, Cyril and Rita built a brick home next to the old farmhouse. They rented the farmhouse to the Gart's daughter Mary Cyril and her husband Jack Kock. Mary and Jack raised their seven children in the house that Williams built.

After Cyril's untimely death in 1962, the farmland was leased. In 1973 the City of Fairview Heights purchased the Pleasant Ridge farm for a nature park. As part of the Bi-Centennial Celebration in 1976, a committee was formed to restore the unique two-story log cabin in its original form. Joe Kinsella, Lawrence's son, supervised the project, and Larry Kinsella, Lawrence's grandson, was the foreman on the job.