Asiala Log Cabin
Walta & Panu Streets
The Paavola family, one of the first Finnish settlers in Kaleva, lived in the Log Cabin around 1900, but it was built some years before. It was located along Cedar Creek about a half mile south of Nine Mile Rd. The Carl Asiala family of six moved into the cabin in 1908 and lived there for two years until their home was completed. The cabin is 20x16 with a main floor and loft, and is built in the typical Finnish style. The cabin was moved to the Siltanen farm around 1917 and was enclosed as part of their home.
In 1979 the cabin was purchased by descendants of Carl Asiala and moved to the Ponderosa, the families’ vacation farm. The cabin was never restored as intended and deteriorated there until 1997 when the family donated the cabin to the Kaleva Norman Dickson Service Learning class.
The cabin was moved to a lot owned by the village of Kaleva. Over the next two years, students from the high school class restored the cabin. The students, with mentor Doyle Eckhardt, took the logs apart, replaced the bottom tier and stacked the logs in order to rebuild the cabin. They hand cut cedar shingles, caulked the logs, replaced door and windows to the original.
When the question came up of how to use the cabin, the students remembered what they had heard during an interview of Kaleva elders. That is in Finland older structures often serve as the back drop for concerts and entertainment. This idea became reality in 1999 when the first series of Friday night concerts in August was held. A deck had been constructed and the students built portable benches that were placed on the lawn for the concerts.
Log Cabin Theater
Local business sponsors and “passing the can” for donations have sustained the Log Cabin concerts for the past twenty years. The entertainment has ranged from local groups to a duo from Ecuador. The original drama, Songs of Kaleva, written by Micheal Asiala, was performed more than once due to popular demand. This play included poems written by students about the early settlers of Kaleva, jokes, music, and Finnish folklore.
A committee of the Kaleva Historical Society arranges for the entertainment each season. They strive for a balance in the genre of music and attempt to meet requests from concert-goers and groups who ask to perform. Myllarit, a group from Karelia, Russia, kicked off the Centennial in the year 2000. In 2013, Satuma, a father, son and daughter quartet also from Russia was a hit. There have been groups from town who have performed, and others from Traverse City and Ludington, Manistee and Benzonia.
Today there are summer concerts in most of the surrounding towns almost every night of the week. However, outdoor concerts at the Kaleva Log Cabin have the distinction of being the first to be held and therefore the longest running. The community and village support as well as loyal sponsors are to be commended.
Pictured - Caroline Asiala of Ecuador, performing live at the first 2019 concert on August 2nd.