Bailey Cabin, California 2007
This project took place in February 2007 and was a combination of archaeology and problem solving.

The existing building pictured below is attributed to a gentleman by the name of Owen Bailey. He and his family headed west after the American Civil War and settled in what is now Anza Borrego National Park. This is thought to be his home and was built around 1906.

I worked with Alan Schmidt of Distinctive Builders based out of Encinitas, California to build a 'carport' to protect the structure. The ravages of the desert sun and intermittent rain has worn down the structure but it remains very much intact. The roof lies in shambles inside the building. The walls have faced repeated attacks from burrowing wasps, birds, mountain lions and cows that rubbed themselves up against the building - rounding the corners...

This building is particularly interesting due to the way it was built. We are not sure how it was exactly done, but we suspect that it may have been done with block forms whereby he poured an adobe-like mix of local clay, sand and fibrous materials in layers. Mr. Bailey also used barb wire between layers to help 'tie-down' previous layers and to provide adhesion to successive layers. The top plates were made of wood and was tied into the building with rebar. There is some very nice plaster work inside that is still visible. The wooden window frames features groves for double-hung windows (no longer intact). The foundation for the structure is made from stacked local granite.

Although the building looks old and 'primitive' to some, it is quite an astounding natural building. Keep in mind that during this time, there were skyscrapers being built in New York and it seems that Mr. Bailey may have brought some of this new technology to his home (such as pouring forms).

The roof that we built over the Bailey Cabin consists of six posts, four 21' beams sitting in metal buckets with engineered trusses spanning over the cabin.
The trick to building this roof was that we weren't allowed to touch the cabin. The State and the archaeologists wanted to preserve the building as much as possible so we had to devise ways of getting up and over the cabin without leaning or going inside the cabin. We used scaffolding and a 32' long platform to straddle the cabin so we could nail the trusses.

Alan Schmidt hopes to investigate further as to the history and construction of this unique building.

For more information, please email
Alan Schmidt - Distinctive Builders. Encinitas, California. . 2007.


The original cabin with our posts in the fore and background.

The roof of the Bailey cabin had collapsed over time.

Granite foundation from the local hills that surround.

Top-plate with rebar and barbwire to tie-in with material.

Finish plaster on left; Double-hung window frame.

Finished protective buildling over cabin.

Desert camp.