A new place for an old home


Old dog trot house on pumpkin hill road rison ar

Until spring of 2010, this old home was in shambles, 47 miles or so to the west of where it now sits  on Pumpkin Hill Road southeast of Rison, Arkansas enjoying early morning sun in mid-November. The old structure is the former home of Bob Abbott’s grandfather. Bob thought the old home was worth saving. So he did.

In 2010, Bob Abbott decided it was high time to move his grandfather’s old dogtrot house from Smead, Arkansas to his place on Pumpkin Hill Road southeast of Rison, Arkansas. The old house had been in its original location since the late 1800s and was no longer owned by the family.  It was not in good condition. In fact, Bob was told by many that the old house was well past restoration and that the move was a bad idea. Bob disagreed and finally found an individual who agreed with his disagreement. He made a deal with the current owners and the move was on.

Old dog trot house

Click on the house for more pictures and info.

After come careful jacking and loading, the old house was on a trailer and ready to roll. The trip from Smead to Pumpkin Hill Road was in the neighborhood of 47 miles, mainly over back county roads and secondary state highways. See some details of the pre-load condition of the house in our earlier story: The Old House at Smead.

Fortunately the trip was reasonably uneventful and the moving crew safely delivered the ancient cargo to the Pumpkin Hill location. Then the real fun began: Reassembling a house without all its parts. Some parts were simply beyond salvage and the builders had to substitute newer materials and make them fit.

Before we go too much further. may we suggest that you check out the start of this story on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. You’ll see more pictures and get additional information.

front view of dog trot house showing dog trot breezeway

You are looking down the dogtrot breezeway from the front of the house. The kitchen side is to the right. The bedroom is to the left. This is close to the original structure of the home. In later years, the homeowners closed the dogtrot at both ends and made a big central room. This was a common practice as families grew, an early no-brainer for a quick room addition.

the back side of a dog trot house

Here’s a 180, looking at the dog-trot breezeway from the back porch.

A look inside

Dogtrot houses in their basic form have two rooms separated by a breezeway. One side has sleeping  and “living” quarters, the other side has a kitchen and dining area. In almost all dogtrot houses, the family eventually made additions to the structure. This one is the two-room version.

bedroom in dog trot house

This is the bedroom complete with iron bed, ladder-back chairs and a vintage Singer Sewing Machine. There are two windows, one to the photographer’s back and the one you see to the left. There is also a door to the back porch. The walls, ceiling and floor are original equipment.

bedroon in dogtrot house showing breezeway

Looking at the bedroom from the front corner showing the entrance door from the breezeway. The wide angle lens necessary to capture this image has distorted the door to nearly twice its size.

Interior of dog trot house bedroom

The home entertainment corner of the bedroom consisting of a 78-rpm Victrola and a couple of chairs. The dresser has a picture and wash bowl.

kitchen in dog trot house

The kitchen has the expected cast-iron stove, a table – and chairs for mom and dad – and benches for everyone else. For ultimate convenience of the times there’s also a sink, pantry, and cupboard.

Kitchen in dog trot house

The kitchen from a slightly different angle.

view of dog trot house kitchen

Another view of the kitchen. This time with hanging aprons. Nice touch.

dogtrot house on pumpkin hill road rison ar

Here’s one more look from the front in mid-afternoon sun.

There’s more on Pumpkin Hill Road

We’ve visited Bob Abbott’s place on Pumpkin Hill Road before, but for those of you who are not familiar with the place, you’ll also find The Traveler, a fully restored and working (but not rolling) executive rail car from a bygone era. You can learn more on The Traveler in our original Corndancer story, Traveler’s Rest and our Weekly Grist version of Traveler’s Rest.

The Traveler railroad executive private car

The Traveler was once the private car of the president of the former St. Louis and Southwestern Railroad, known popularly as the “Cotton Belt” line.

Chapel on Pumpkin Hill Road

There’s also a Chapel on the property, popular for small weddings, memorial services, and other church meetings and events.

Tree top reflection in lake

This tree-top reflection in a lake on the Pumpkin Hill Road place looks akin to any number of French impressionist works.

And as a parting shot, there’s a fine lake on the property. I saw a tree-top reflection in the water. It’s the Almighty’s version of French impressionists made available to me. And to you.

Lake on Pumpkin Hill Road

Click on the lake for our special Pumpkin Hill Road gallery

Pumpkin Hill Gallery

We have created a special gallery of 19 pictures of the place on Pumpkin Hill Road which are larger and better resolution than normal web presentation.

If you would like to see the Pumpkin Hill Corndancer and Weekly Grist pictures larger and in greater detail this gallery is for you. Click here.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

Rock houses and other recent finds


Old rock buildings

I could not find anyone who could give me information on these buildings at Hickory Flat, Arkansas. The larger one strongly resembles some jails I’ve seen. I absolutely haven’t a clue about the smaller building. Hickory Flat was as flat as a pool table but I spied no immediately recognizable hickory trees. So much for batting .500.

Rocks rocked back in the day

Up in the hinterlands of north Arkansas, toward the Ozarks, years ago, rocks (now more fashionably called “native stone”) were a popular building material. You see can still see examples of rock commercial buildings and rock houses in small towns and rural areas up there.

There was a lot to be said for rocks. There were plenty of them and for the most part they were free, depending on where and when you harvested them. Think of the great outdoors in that case, as Home Depot or Lowes with no checkout stands — substituting sweat, grunts, groans, and sore backs as the currency of choice.

Old dog trot house

Click to see more this old dogtrot house

Before we delve further on this rocky road, we suggest you go to the Photo of  the Week page at Corndancer dot com where this trip started to see a fine example of another historically popular residential structure style, a dogtrot house at Cleveland, Arkansas.

There’s enough of it left to give you an idea of how things were. We’ll wait here while you take a look at this old structure from several angles.

older rock buildings at Hickory Flat Arkansas

Here’s a second look at the old Hickory Flat rock buildings. The small window has heavy hardware cloth and no glass. There is a big hole in the hardware cloth. Was someone breaking in — or out?

Further west, I found this no-longer-occupied rock house, north of Hector, Arkansas, way back in the boondocks. The structure appears to be in relatively good condition. After all, short of impact or explosion, what’s going to hurt a rock?

Old rock house in the Arkansas Ozarks

It’s been a while since anyone lived here, but the old house appears to be in pretty good condition. At least from the outside. Looks like a good place for old tires and other unneeded stuff one is not yet ready to finally jettison.

Here’s another rock house, with evidence of an architectural style that emerged in the late forties and fifties, the “picture window.” You don’t see many rock houses with one of those. Notice the cut wires for electrical service at the roof line to the right. The house is on Highway 110 southeast of Heber Springs. It has a big ol’ home-place tree in the back yard.

old rock house on hwy 110 in arkansas

This old house demonstrates a masonry work-around: If you run out of rocks or don’t have the right size or shape, make yourself a rock out of cement. Take a look at the bottom of both sides of the front porch.

Another dogtrot house

I found an old dogtrot house on Highway 110 southwest of Heber Springs, Arkansas. As with most surviving dogtrots, the breezeway was closed to make another room, basically a historical no-brainer if you needed additional enclosed space. This one has a nice old “home-place” tree and an in-ground storm shelter to boot. A great place for spiders and bugs.

old dog trot house with home-place tree

Like most dogtrot houses occupied for the long term, the dogtrot breezeway on this one has been closed to make one or more additional rooms. The old home place tree tells us that both have been around a while.

In the next picture, you see evidence that someone is repairing the old home. There is a concrete form set up on the right hand side of the porch and a couple of QuickCrete bags on the front port bench. And, one of the porch columns has been replaced. Perhaps this house will survive.

Old dog trot house with storm shelter in yard

At a slightly different angle you see the in-ground storm shelter which makes an apparent final resting place for a bicycle skeleton. Also, you can see the add-on at the back of the house. There’s hardly a surviving dogtrot that does not have one or more additions.

This old residence has a storm shelter which looks like a mini-turret from the Maginot Line or the Nazi Atlantic wall of WWII fame and/or infamy (one failed miserably, and the other was a creation of the bad-guys).  The house has long since been unoccupied and there’s no telling what awaits one in the storm shelter.

pill box storm shelter at old house in arkansas

The storm shelter at this long abandoned house on Highway 25 way north of Heber Springs resembles a WWII “pill-box” fortification. Long abandoned, it is probably home to a full compliment of creepy-crawlers.

Old barn and giant canine

Not far from the pill-box storm shelter I spied the sun-illuminated roof of this old barn. I ventured an inquiry to the residents of the property. I parked in the front yard and headed to the back door as any self-respecting Southerner will do. When I exited the truck a large dog rounded the corner headed my way. I believe he is part German Shepherd, part Mastiff, and part Tyrannosaurus  Rex.

Old barn under revnovation

The old barn in Bud’s yard shows some signs of recent attention. Perhaps it is a lofty man-cave under construction. The Red, White, and Blue lets others know where these folks stand. While there are miles to go before they sleep on this renovation, these folks have made a start — which is more than can be said for most of the old barns I see.  The late afternoon October sun lends a nice touch to the scene.

As the giant approached, I extended my time-honored greeting to strange dogs, “Hey Poody-Pood, what’s happenin’?” To our mutual good-fortune, he interpreted my kindly proffered greeting in the spirit in which I extended it. His Louisville Slugger size tail began to flagellate.

Before I could take another step, his front paws were just shy of my shoulders and I received a face-full of his favorite greeting. I made my way to the back door with my requests. The residents gave me the boy’s name as I sought dispensation to photograph their barn. His name is “Bud,” and I got reluctant approval to make my pictures. Unfortunately, Bud was such a moving target, I did not get a picture.

Home place tree

When I Google “Home Place Tree,” the first reference is to that term in a story I wrote earlier. That said, I suppose I can lay claim to the term. Those of you who follow these posts have heard the term more than once. The truth is you see more home place trees all by their lonely than you do with the home to which they supplied shade. In this case, the home is still there, but on its last legs. Sooner or later, you will see only the tree, so take a good look at what’s left of the original arrangement and use your imagination.

Old house with home place tree

Many, many older rural home owners always left a tree or two close to their residence, hence my coined term “home place tree.” Here is the original arrangement. The tree will no doubt outlast the home.

A silo at last

I recently lamented to Ebenezer Bowles, the chief cook and bottle washer at Corndancer dot-com, that I longed to see a silo in my view-finder. The Almighty must have taken notice of the conversation. In His Divine bent to take good care of fools and drunks, He put in front of an unused, but nicely preserved silo in a perfect setting and perfect light. I submit the image as prima-facie evidence that Divine intervention is alive and well.

Silo in pasture

This great silo is west of Highway 16, south of Pangburn, Arkansas.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

The Byrd House at Poyen, an inside look


1896 Kitchen table

You are looking at a kitchen table which has been in use since 1896 in the Samuel D. Byrd house near Poyen, Arkansas. The rest of the house is similarly furnished with period heirlooms reflecting the history of the home and times of its residents, the Byrd family.

The Samuel D. Byrd house at Poyen Arkansas

Click on the house to see exterior pictures

It’s not every day that one has the opportunity to visit a residence which originated in 1848. Ever higher on the rare scale is to see such a structure furnished with original heirlooms passed down for several generations, and hear a good history of the place and its residents from an authority on the subject.

The place is the Samuel D. Byrd, Sr. house just west of Poyen, Arkansas on U.S. Highway 270. And we are looking inside the old home.

Listed on the National Register of Historic places, the old home is still owned and maintained by Hobart “Sonny” Byrd, a descendant of Samuel D. Byrd, and his wife Betty. The Byrds have done an extraordinary job of maintaining and furnishing the home to reflect the residents and their life and times. Before we go much further, may I suggest that you go to the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com to see exterior pictures of this historic home and find the beginning of this story. We will wait here for your return.

Kitchen with wood stove

The kitchen is complete with a wood stove and less running water. The dishpan is on the table in front of the window at the center of the picture. Betty and Sonny Byrd furnished and created the historic environment with original family artifacts.

See more pictures of the old house in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

 Like most rural homes of that era, this home, now a nice-sized 6-room dogtrot house,  started as one room enclosed by logs. The first order of business was always to get shelter from the elements, critters, and any meandering miscreants who might wander through. One of the first additions was for storage. The north exterior wall of the original structure is now the south exterior wall of the storage room. The Byrds have filled the room with jars, tools, filled burlap bags, and other implements of daily living from days gone by.

Log wall in storage room

The south wall of the storage room is the north exterior wall of the original log room. A burlap bag, old ironing board, washer wringers, burlap bag, coal-oil lamp, and lard can add authenticity.

Storage room wall with period items

The north storage room wall holds a collection of standard household items of the era: A large washtub, dishpans which double as a bathtub for babies, plus shelves of jars, cans, and boxes. A coal-oil can is under the window. (For the uninitiated, “coal-oil” is the old-timey word for kerosene).

See more pictures of the old house in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

The original fireplaces and chimneys for the house were of the mud variety. They were built from available rocks, chinked and covered with mud. The family replaced the mud fireplaces with the brick fireplaces around 1920. The remaining fireplace is now in the “front” room. The room is large and doubled as a bedroom.

Old living room with large brick fire place.

The family replaced the original mud fireplace with this brick one around 1920. This is the “front” room, a living room in modern parlance. It doubled as a bedroom.

We are grateful to Sonny and Betty Byrd for their good work in preserving this fine historic home. What they are doing is purely voluntary. They do what they do with the old home because they believe it is the right thing to do.

Some will say this is a study of a simpler time. I’m betting the folks who lived then did not see running outside to do their business, draw their water, feed livestock and defend them from wild critters, cut trees, chop wood, kill your own meat, build a fire in a kitchen stove, wash dishes in a pan, wash clothes in a tub and keep a wary eye out for bad guys as a simple life. It does not sound simple to me. It sounds busy. But then everything is relative.

See a detailed history of the old home and family by Sonny Hobart at Samuel D. Byrd Historic Home.  To set up a visit, send an email.

old dog trot house

Click on the house for more pictures

SEE MORE PICTURES of the historic house in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

See more exterior and exterior pictures of the historic Samuel D. Byrd house in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

There are 18 pictures including larger versions of the pictures you see here and on the Corndancer page. See bedrooms, another kitchen shot and more. Click and go.  Guaranteed all-natural, low-cholesterol, g-rated, non-fattening content. Full refund if not fully satisfied.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

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