Exhibit Shows History Of 19th Century Homes


Built in 1867 by Confederate Civil War veteran Nickolas Crane, who had moved to Texas from Alabama in 1848, the Crane Cabin was moved to Montgomery County and restored by B. Carroll and Mae Tharp in 1974.


The Sam Houston Memorial Museum will tour some of Walker and Montgomery counties’ prime real estate during the 1800s with a photo exhibit beginning July 17.

“Mudcats and Dogtrots: Historic Log Buildings in Walker and Montgomery Counties,” includes approximately 45 pictures, that will be on display through Aug. 31 in the Katy and E. Don Walker, Sr., Education Center.

Taken by museum curator of exhibits David Wight and borrowed from Walker County Treasures, the photographs highlight the structural details of houses that were once so common they weren’t carefully documented, Wight said.

These structural details include not only differences in the way cabins were “notched” and whether round or square logs were used, but also how the fireplaces were built—with mudcats, a special kind of mud—and the dogtrots, the open but covered central breezeway that separated two “pens” or “cribs.”

“Many dogtrot log houses evolved from a single log structure; as the family expanded, a second crib was added,” according to Gordon Echols’s book “Early Texas Architecture.” “The name dog run is derived from the fact that the family dogs found the shade and the breeze during the summer as comfortable as did the residents.”

Inside the Bear Bend Hunting Lodge, built in 1850, where Gen. Sam Houston often stayed while hunting.

While some of the pictures in the exhibit date back to around 1896, many of the cabins that are part of the exhibit are dated as early as the 1830s, according to museum director Patrick Nolan.

Among the cabins that will be part of the exhibit are the Roberts-Farris cabin, currently located on the courthouse square in Huntsville; Sam Houston’s Woodlands Home; the Guerrant Cabin, currently being restored by the Sam Houston Memorial Museum; and the Bear Bend Hunting Lodge, often frequented by Houston when hunting.

Wight, who took approximately 30 of the exhibit’s pictures as a “semi-professional hobby,” said he hopes through his photography “to preserve a legacy of folk architecture that might otherwise have been lost.

“The ones we took pictures of are being maintained, but who knows if that will go on forever,” he said. “A lot of log cabins have been lost simply because they fell down.”

An opening reception for the exhibit will be held on July 18, beginning at 7:30 p.m. and followed by a performance of Huntsville resident Una Grace Nash’s “Gone to Texas: A Historical Pageant” at 8 p.m.

Narrated by Nash, playing Margaret Houston, “Gone to Texas” tells the life of Gen. Sam Houston through the eyes of many people he encountered in his life, including Margaret, his Indian father Chief Oo-Loo-Te-Ka, his slave Joshua Houston and Gen. Andrew Jackson, among others, all portrayed by area citizens.

“It’s all these people who were part of his life and are talking about how they remember him,” Nolan said.

The play is based on the actual writings and letters by and to Houston.

“When Margaret talks about how she first met Sam Houston as a young girl, it really happened that way. She was living in Alabama and Sam came to a party at her sister’s house,” Nolan said. “He was introduced to her, and she thought he was the handsomest man she’d ever seen. It’s romantic, but it’s true.

“Gen. Andrew Jackson narrates how he commanded Sam Houston at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, which was during the War of 1812 and Houston was wounded,” he said. “That’s where he first met him, and of course, later he helped sponsor Houston when he was president of the Republic of Texas.”

Both the exhibit and the reception are free and open to the public.

The Walker Education Center is located at 1409 19th St.

For more information, call the Sam Houston Memorial Museum at 936.294.1832.


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SHSU Media Contacts: Jennifer Gauntt
July 9, 2008
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