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

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Back to Smead


There’s just too much for one trip

old barn at Smead AR

This old horse barn at Smead, Arkansas, was built in the early 1900s according to Bob Abbott, whose grandfather lived, worked, raised eight children and died on the home place where the barn sits. The shed overhang to the left was not part of the original structure.

This is the second week we’ve visited the old home place at Smead, Arkansas, a first in the Weekly Grist collection of epistles. So much to shoot and such short days. Last week we shot the house and some out buildings. The barn is typical of the era. Get a good description of the barn and see three more pictures where this story started on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to go there, a cool thing to do. We’ll wait here while you look.

Small friendly, super cool dog

small dog

When you arrive at the old home place, you are immediately checked out and greeted by this small ambassador for the Dodson family. She appears to be mostly rat terrier.

In the south, no rural home is complete without at least one dog. Really enlightened residents have more than one dog. This place is one of those.

The dog in the picture is the smaller and friendlier of the two. She appears to believe that each different human being is a new two-legged toy. We have a Rottweiler with that mentality.

She appears to be mostly rat terrier with a few neighborhood friends and neighbors tossed in to keep the gene pool well diversified. Most of these smaller terrier dogs I’ve seen are frenetic barkers. Not this one. She followed me around and watched what I did. When I beckoned her, she came forth to lick me and be scratched and petted in return. We then went on our ways, me to shoot, and her to watch until the next affection session. What a concept!

Inside the barn, the patina of age

One can only admire the sturdy construction of this great barn. Now clocking along for 90-plus years, it is wearing well.

stall gate inside barn

Nothing fancy here, but strong and functional. The gate latch was supplemented, no doubt by a small chain. Look at the indentation in the second gate slat from the right and you will see a where the chain wore the wood. The small chain snap-link above the wooden latch competed the chain circuit. Since the wooden latch was reachable by a child, the chain provided the insurance to keep critters and kids in their proper and respective places.

Detailed look

Taking a closer look at the gate latch, you can see the tool marks where the craftsman made the latch by hand.

hand hewn latch

Look closely to see the hand-hewn tool marks on this 90-plus year old latch. DeWalt, Ryobi, and Black and Decker and the like were not even a figment of anyone's imagination when the craftsman carved away everything that was not a gate latch. It still works. End of story.

Never fixed and probably a good thing

ladder repair needed

We conjectured that a cantankerous mule or horse probably dispatched the lower rung and upright of the loft ladder in the barn. "It's been that way since I can remember," says Bob Abbott. His grandfather was the owner of the barn. That broken rung probably kept Bob and his siblings out of that loft while they were still at a tender age, but charged with curiosity which nearly always results in cuts, bruises and breaks. A wise and discerning Grandpa takes advantage of such a barrier.

Smead kids went to Holly Springs School

Holly Springs School

This was Holly Springs School where Smead kids got their first exposure to the three "R's."

A few miles east of Smead is another small community, Holly Springs. Unlike Smead, Holly Springs is alive and well with a church and a well-managed community store. It’s not big, but it is a good community. The old school building above, after a round of school consolidation and a stint as a community center, now belongs to a local church.

According to local sources the school was built in 1930 or 31. Prior to this building, grades one-twelve were taught in an older frame structure. Grades one through eight were taught in this school. Students in grades nine through twelve were bussed to Sparkman, Arkansas. The roads, then, not being what they are not, did not facilitate rapid movement of the buses. Long waits for short rides were de rigueur for the times.

Amazingly, the aggregation of unsupervised young Arkansans charged with pre-pubescent energy, with too much time on their hands (the older ones were just beginning to feel hormonal stirrings), did not perpetrate a wave of juvenile misbehavior. A normal set of circumstances 60 years ago. A bizarre miracle now.

More pictures

Sixteen pictures from eight gigs of shots made the short list for this story. Not all of them made the cut. Click here to see a high-resolution gallery of all 16 shots including the smoke house with moss on the roof, a second shot of the old smoke house, and old broken brick and the old home.

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 old house at Smead


old house at Smead Arkansas

The cedar tree in the foreground may well be older than the house. The house was built in the late 1800s. When the tree was a sapling, we don't know. One thing we do know, it displays the gnarled and scarred characteristics of old cedar trees − the looks of a hardy survivor.

The old house, and not a lot else, is at Smead, Arkansas. It is the childhood home of my friend Bob Abbott who graciously pointed me in the direction of his former domicile. The story of the old house started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. To see how the story started plus two other pictures, click here, a very cool thing to do.

Almost, bit not quite

From the front, the old home almost appears marginally habitable. Unfortunately, looks, in this case are deceiving. The house faces east, as you see it above. The rub is, the weather, in this neck of the woods, mainly comes to us from the west. So the back of the house, for well over 100 years, has taken the worst hissy-fits Mother Nature can pitch, on the chin. It has collapsed in several places.

Outside looking in and vice-versa

old screen doors

Left, "outside looking IN, with the front door open, you can see down a hall where the back wall of that part of the house has collapsed. Right, looking OUT the same door, it is almost good enough to tell your friends to "come on in and make yourself at home."

Dog trot

The house was originally of the dog-trot style, common in that day and time. Although the domicile was under one roof, there were two distinct areas separated by a breezeway. Usually, one side was for cooking and passing the time of day and the other side was for sleeping. At some time, the breezeway ends were closed and it became a giant hallway.

hall way and rooms

The front door is just out of view to the right hand side of the pictujre. The first room has all the appearances of a living or "front" room. This hall was originally a breezeway. The ceiling material is "beadboard," a popular milled wood stripping of the time. There is a dirt dauber nest by the ceiling light fixture.

Barns

Rural residents of the era of this house almost always had some livestock for food and work. These critters require accommodations, most always manifested as a barn. This location was not exception. There are two barns on the property, a cow barn and a horse barn. The cow barn is below. The left side is for the cows. The right side is a tool shed, hay storage area and general purpose hideout.

old cow barn

The smoke house/tool shed is in better condition than the house.

We’ll have more on this location next week. More looks at the house and nosing around the barns. There always more questions asked than answered on these explorations, but perhaps that’s the appeal.

I am running a bit late this evening. Production was halted while I watched one of my fondest wishes come true during Super Bowl 44. Geaux Saints. Who Dat?

Click here to see a gallery of 21 high resolution pictures from this location, including those you have seen here and on the Corndancer Photo of the Week page. We always shoot more than we have room to publish.

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