In the market for a Maid Cabin?

The U.S. National Park Service and in particular Shenandoah National Park is seeking public input on a draft memorandum of agreement concerning the proposed removal of five buildings in the Big Meadows Area — known as the Big Meadows Cottages, or Maids Cabins.

Big Meadows Cottages or Maid’s Cabins. Courtesy of Shenandoah Park

These cottages are contributing structures in the Skyland Drive National Historic Landmark District, entered in the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

As required under the National Historic Preservation Act, the park and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources State Historic Preservation Office developed the memorandum to mitigate the adverse effect to the national historic landmark district. The draft describes measures to be taken by the park to document the cottages prior to removal and protect any unknown archaeological resources during the removal process.

The cabins sit behind the Crescent Rock Cottage. The Virginia Sky-Line Company built Cottage A and B around 1933 and Cottage C, D, and E around 1939. All were constructed and located at Swift Run Gap, approximately 14 miles south of Big Meadows.

In 1955, the Virginia Sky-Line Company moved the cottages to their present location, removed the original porches, and added a bathroom extension to the rear of each building. The park’s business partners at Big Meadows used these buildings as employee housing and, for the last 10 years, as storage. In 2013, the park reacquired control of the buildings.

Reached this past week, Shenandoah Park spokeswoman Sally Hurlbert told the Rappahannock News that surrounding any future use by park itself the cabins are “in such bad shape they are not able to be restored.”

“These cabins have gotten so rotten — there is mold and mildew in them, and they are deemed not restorable,” she said.

Which isn’t to say the cabins are destined for demolition.

“They’ve been moved once [in 1955], so if anybody would want to remove them they could likely be put on trailers and moved out,” said Hurlbert. “Or they could be taken apart and rebuilt or restored for a different purpose.”

Last summer, the park solicited public input on the proposed removal and received 29 comments to consider. Many suggested that the cabins be moved to a new location and repurposed into “tiny houses” for people in need. On that idea, the park will determine if the cabins are fit for habitation as is required by Title V of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

Comments should be posted online at or sent by mail to: Superintendent, Shenandoah National Park, Attn. Big Meadows Cottages, 3655 U.S. Highway 211, Luray, VA 22835.

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John McCaslin is the editor of the Rappahannock News. Email him at