In 1962, when Gloria and Bill Hilderbran purchased matching antique ceiling lamps, one member of the couple had much bigger intentions.
“We bought those because I told Bill, ‘One day we’ll have a log house to put these in,’” Gloria says, strolling through the cabin that, decades later, did come to fruition. Bill, a 78-year-old Korean War veteran and career electrician, is outside, taking care of the of the fallen fall foliage that comes with living down a long dirt driveway in the woods of Powder Springs.
But it wasn’t the clearest path in building the three-floor cabin that houses the Hilderbrans and their countless antiques, and has been featured in several magazines. In the mid-‘80s, Gloria had the structure envisioned and land off Moon Road purchased (Bill was OK with whatever his wife wanted). The contractor, though, was hammering out a different vision in the early stages.
“I just fought with him about everything,” says Gloria, 74.
So one day, they went to pay the contractor what they owed and pulled him off the job. “We got in the car and Bill said, ‘What are we going to do now?’ And I said, ‘I guess well do it ourselves.’ He just kind of looked at me because he was working two jobs.”
With the help of their sons and a big bundle of contractors, the Hilderbrans finished their cabin for what Gloria estimates was $60,000 in ‘80s money. They’ve lived there for 25 years, and in that time, have stocked it full with old-timey furniture, wall hangings, toys and all sorts of other decades-old knickknacks.
“There are several cabins in the area, but you’d be surprised how few homes have the country furniture like this,” says Gloria, whose passion for antiques turned into business for 15-plus years with the Country Store of Seven Springs before she retired and it closed in July.
There’s a giant apothecary chest; the roping from a rope bed, probably from as far back as 1850; checkerboards, some dating to the turn of the century; a compactable metal Civil War lantern, likely used by an officer; a World War II fighter helmet; Mason jar boxes; simplistic 19th century toys; and handcrafted furniture made of whatever wood the crafter could find.
“It’s not all pine or poplar or oak—it’s whatever they had behind the barn,” Gloria explains, adding it’s near impossible to price most of the items.
Nothing can be traced specifically to Powder Springs, and most can't be matched with an exact date, though sometimes inscribed numbers or other identifiers provide general timeframes.
Glorida chuckles as she explains there are no ghosts attached to her antiques—“no spirits came with any of it”—nor is there a scent—“some of it’s so old that the smell has been gone for so long.”
At first glance, there aren’t any modern utilities or appliances in the cabin. But because of some strategic arranging—the TV tucked away in the wooden cabinet, the old lamps with electric bulbs hidden under the shades, the stovetop covered by a giant wooden cutting board—senses are engulfed by the venerable atmosphere and carried back in time.
Gloria describes how Bill’s sister was once confused after being invited to Thanksgiving. “She said, ‘Where are you going to have it?’ I said, ‘At the house.’ And she said, ‘Well how are you going to do that? You don’t have a stove in your kitchen.’”
Though the cabin has been featured in several publications, like Country Living and a hardback book from Home Depot, Hilderbran brushes off the recognition and says she’s an “insignificant fly on the wall” compared to those who are far more into cabins and antiquing than her.
“I just wanted a house I loved,” she says, noting the mystery from age in the antiques that fill it. “I can look up there at that cheese basket and I wonder, ‘How many pounds of cheese were made in that basket?’ And like this chest of drawers—somebody handmade that.”
No one has randomly showed up to check out the couple of 54 year’s home—after all, Gloria points out, it’s not the easiest to find. But they did get an offer from a builder once.
“He said, ‘You know you’ve got prime acreage. If you ever, ever sell...,’” Gloria recalls. “I told him, ‘When I leave here, it will be in a pine box.’”