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

Christmas at Margland


Margland Bed and Breakfast

Margland Bed and Breakfast is decked out in its Christmas finest. The structure was finished originally in 1903. Ed Thompson and Wanda Bateman restored it in 1985 and started the bed and breakfast. The bed and breakfast now includes four additional similar structures all in the same block on West Second Avenue in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Doing things “half-way,” is not an option for Wanda Bateman and Ed Thompson, owners and operators of Margland Bed and Breakfast Inns of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. They started their enterprise in 1985 when they restored the old home above. Now they own the whole block and have converted four additional Victorian era structures to house bed and breakfast guests.

Margland fireplace

Click on the fireplace for more pictures

The faithfully restored exterior seems to make a promise that when you enter the premises, you will continue to see furnishings and decor reminiscent of the early 20th century. When you step inside, particularly during the Christmas Season, you immediately see that Wanda and Ed made good on their promise. The house is full of period furniture, decor and artifacts. And you are looking for Christmas decorations which stick to traditional practices, this one is it. You’ll see plenty of red and green.

Speaking of which, you can see two more pictures of the exterior and one picture of the interior on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. We’ll wait here while you look.

Two room view of Margland Bed and breakfast

This is the big 'front-room." You know this was a highfalutin' house because it has two "front rooms," as opposed to the more pedestrian one "front room" arrangement. The other "front room" is out of the picture to the right. It features the fireplace and huge Christmas tree. In the south, or at least the part where I grew up, the term "living room," was not widely used. That room was commonly referred to as the "front room," which could have been a throwback to the old shotgun houses where the rooms were "house wide." This house has two "front rooms," which puts it high in the pecking order.

See more Margland and Christmas light pictures
in our Weekly Grist gallery.

Margland dining room

The dining room at Margland features a large dining table of the same era as the house. As I was shooting the room, the kitchen staff was filling the table with sweets and Hors d'oeuvres in preparation for a church Christmas party.

Sliver cabinet and side board in Margland

The sideboard and silver cabinet are part and parcel of the period furnishings. The straw-bearded Santa adds a bit of contemporary whimsy in the spirit of the season.

See more Margland and Christmas light pictures
in our Weekly Grist gallery.

Nativity scene at the top of the stairs

This finely crafted nativity scene is at the first-landing in the stairs to the residence of the building, a reminder that Jesus is the reason for the season.

 As we enter the Christmas season and look to the promise of a new year, we pause to give thanks for what we have and take a look at where we’ve been, what we’ve done, or not done. For some of us, we’ll even wonder why we got a bundle of switches for Christmas.

Christmas elf

Click on the elf for more pictures

SEE MORE PICTURES OF MARGLAND

See more pictures of Margland plus some additional Christmas light pictures and a nice nativity scene in our  Weekly Grist Gallery. You see the Weekly Grist and Corndancer pictures plus more not shown any where else in larger better format. Click and go.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

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

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