Bowdon Area Historical Society Museum
Bowdon Area Historical Society Provides
Living History Demonstrations during Founder’s Day
The doors and grounds of the Bowdon Area Historical Society Shelnutt House Museum are open to visitors during the first weekend in August as a part of the city’s annual Founder’s Day events.
The double pen dog trot house is thought to have once belonged to one of the founders of Bowdon, Nathaniel Shelnutt, and contains two rooms. One is devoted to Bowdon history and includes displays from the Bowdon College era, artifacts from the town’s doctors and pharmacists, momentoes of the city’s centennial celebration in 1953 and pictures from the Bowdon Railway. The second room portrays living arrangements for a family in the early part of the 20th century. Household items focus on everyday chores before today’s modern conveniences. Period textiles are also on display as well s farm implements.
During Founder’s Day the grounds bustle with activity. Costumed volunteers demonstrate skills necessary for sustaining a family when a trip to the nearest grocery or department store was not an option. Bean stringing, crocheting, knitting, apple drying and basket making were among this year’s activities.
Founder’s Day 2010 added games for children. With costuming and games coordinated by Tindol Pate, nine children between the ages of 3 and 13 demonstrated for visitors activities in which children might have participated. These included hopscotch, blind man’s bluff, marbles, hide and seek and sedentary activities such as reading and paper dolls. Treats were tea cakes and ginger snaps and water was from fruit jars. Music for singing was provided by a dulcimer.
Adult participants included Mignon Wessinger, Joan Barrow, Lindsey Eidson, Willie McGrew, Carter Clay, Robert Richardson (and Prescious) and museum chairs, Jim and Judy Rowell. Children who participated were Tondol, Wilson, Sumlin, Parker and Daven Pate, Mattie and Caroline Steed and Elizabeth and Charles West.
The Bowdon Area Historical Society Shelnutt House Museum is open to individuals and groups by appointment.
The Bowdon Area Historical Society Museum, also know as the Shelnutt-Wessinger House, is located adjacent to the Society headquarters, The Meeting Place, on College View Street.
Nathaniel Shelnutt, one of the founder’s of Bowdon, is thought to have built the house it 1851. It is typical of houses built on the rural frontier in the foothills of the Alleghenies. In type it is a dog-trot house, a one story house, composed of two equal units separated by a broad open central hall and joined by a common roof. This type dwelling was common in eastern Alabama and western Georgia in the late 1840s and 1850s. The dogtrot dwelling was a frontier adaptation of the coastal hall and parlor house. The rural version was usually built of logs, but the Shelnutt-Wessinger house was constructed of wide heart-of-pine planks. In placement of windows, fireplaces and chimneys, doors, porches and in its dimensions, the Shelnutt-Wessinger house exemplifies the frontier dog-trot house.
Supporting the BAHS mission statement to preserve the heritage of the Bowdon area and to instill an appreciation of the past in both present and future generations, the Museum offers two rooms depicting life in Bowdon in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The “turn of the century room” reflects life as it would have been for a family and includes items found in a home in the area. The collection includes a spool bed complete with feather mattress, meal bin, cupboard, spinning wheel, period clothes and children’s toys.
The “Bowdon room” displays artifacts from the Bowdon College era, equipment from doctors and pharmacies, 1953 centennial celebration memorabilia, military uniforms and other pictures and items from the town’s history.
The Museum is open for individuals and groups by appointment and has been a part of a travelling exhibit at local schools. Museum committee members take part in living history days at local schools and conduct living history demonstrations during Founder’s Day activities each year.
The Museum also maintains a collection of historical photographs dating from the 1860’s. In 2009 a collection of these photos was converted to a DVD, Portraits of a Place, which received the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Board, Award for Excellence in Archival Program Development.
The BAHS Museum is a member of the Association of Georgia Museums and Galleries.