Pioneer museum renovates roof in preparation for 50th anniversary

Published 3:00 am Friday, August 10, 2018

In the year 2021, the Pioneer Museum of Alabama will celebrate 50 years. For that milestone event, the plan of the museum’s board of directors and staff is to have completed several projects designed to protect and preserve historic structures on the museum grounds.

A generous donation from the Alabama Farmers Federation and museum funds have gotten the plan off to a good start.

Barbara Tatom, museum director, said thanks to the support from the Alabama Farmers Federation, funds were available to replace the cedar shake roof on the museum’s dogtrot cabin.

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“The dogtrot cabin and the steam engine bring people off the highway to visit the museum,” Tatom said. The dogtrot is one of our most visited cabins.”

The dogtrot cabin was a distinctive style of housing during Pioneer Days.

“A dogtrot house had rooms on either side that were divided by a hall,” Tatom said. “The hall was a place were dogs could sleep and stay cool in the summer and be protected in the winter, so it was called a dogtrot.”

Tatom said the hall was also an ideal place for stacking firewood and stove wood and for bringing wood and water into the cabin.

Tatom said the museum’s dogtrot cabin was built in 1852 by Tom Madison, who homesteaded near Saco. The cabin was donated to the Pioneer Museum of Alabama by Frances Hussey Johnson in memory of her parents, Louie Barfield and Callie Hussey. The cabin was moved to the museum in 1972.

Tatom said a footnote to the donation was that the great, great, great-granddaughter of Tom Madison, Bobbie McCarvey of Newnan, Georgia, visited the Pioneer Museum of Alabama out of the interest and desire to see the cabin.

“For a long time, Mrs. McCravey had been wanting to see the dogtrot cabin that is a part of her family’s history and that preceded the Civil War,” Tatom said. “Her son, Bryan Rigsby, brought her to the museum as a Mother’s Day present. She enjoyed seeing the dogtrot cabin as well as the entire museum. She stayed for about three hours and we enjoyed having her. The visit to the museum was a thoughtful and special gift.”

Tatom expressed appreciation to the Alabama Farmers Federation and President Jimmy Parnell for the generous donation that made it financially possible to replace the cedar shake roof.

She also thanked Andrew Trotman and Trotman Roofing Company, Montgomery County, for the outstanding work done on the replacement roof.

“It is difficult to find roofing companies that do that kind of work,” Tatom said. “We greatly appreciate their time and efforts.”

Tatom said there is more work to be done at the museum to protect and preserve the historic buildings and also in preparation for museum’s 50th year anniversary.

Memberships are a large part of the funding for the museum. Those who have an appreciation for history are encouraged to become members of the Pioneer Museum of Alabama. Corporate, family and individual memberships are available.

The museum is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Memberships may be purchased during those days and hours. For more information, call the Pioneer Museum of Alabama at 334-566-3597.