Tour of Homes scheduled for Saturday

Published 6:00 am Friday, November 17, 2006

A display of architectural styles from the past to present willanchor Lawrence County’s third annual Tour of Homes and HistoricPlaces Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., but new locations andadditions to traditional sites should also excite returningvisitors.

Homes on the tour will show architectural styles from the 1890sto a home built in 1996.

Old favorites, such as the home of former Mississippi Gov. A.H.Longino, the Fox House in Wanilla and Bahala Methodist Church, willstill be on the tour, but may feature a new twist, said Kay Allen,an event organizer for the Lawrence County Historical Society.

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“It’ll be an interesting tour,” she said. “We’re going back tothe pioneer roots and the things we used to do.”

The Longino home has been refurbished, but the key attractionthere this year is the addition of Dr. Ben Cowart’sturn-of-the-century doctor’s office. The office was built by hispatients in 1898 atop Burns Hill on Firetower Road and moved to theLongino House after the historical society gained ownership of thebuilding earlier this year.

Cowart did not make a lot of money in his practice, Allensaid.

“He was paid all his life in chickens and produce,” she said.”Eventually, his patients built him an office and home.”

The patients were far-sighted, Allen said, and even thought ofconvenience during those rough-and-tumble years of Mississippi’spioneer heritage. This included a “ride-through” window.

“It had a window in the back, and patients would ride up ontheir horses and knock on the window for their medicine,” shesaid.

A new carriage barn has also been constructed on the site, andartisans will be present to demonstrate some pioneer skills whilevisitors enjoy biscuits and honey and authentic sugar cane. Apotter will even allow visitors to try their hand at creating anitem, Allen said.

Other special events are being planned at Bahala MethodistChurch, which was established in 1867. The church features handmadefurnishings and a potbellied stove.

A new attraction to the tour is the inclusion of the grave siteof a former slave, Starling Spurlock. The Bees, Butterflies andFlowers Garden Club of New Hebron won a prestigious award at thedistrict meeting of the Mississippi Garden Club for the work theydid to reclaim to site, Allen said.

“Old timers have always known this grave was here, but it tookthese ladies to restore it and put it back the way it should havebeen,” she said. “It had just deteriorated over the years.”

Spurlock died circa 1930 and lay at a lone grave site at theedge of the woods surrounded by a rusting wrought iron fence onwhat once property belonging to the Scarborough family. Spurlockhad been freed from slavery, but was bound to the land for lifefrom a crippling injury and the generosity of the Scarboroughs,according to a short biography compiled by the garden club membersfrom community lore and memories of the Scarborough family.

Spurlock was likely in his teens when the Emancipation Act freedthe slaves in 1863, but, born lame, he did not leave when theothers did. Instead, the Scarboroughs took him in. They providedhim a room on the rear porch and the basic necessities. He worked agarden, occasionally sold some the produce he produced, and didchores for the family. He received indigent pay from thecounty.

In a sign of the times, when he died the former slaves did notwant him buried in their cemetery because he had lived with thewhites and the whites would not allow a black person to be buriedin their cemetery, according to a witness account related to theEnterprise Journal. Therefore, the Scarboroughs set asideenough land to bury him in a private plot. The fence was addedlater.

Tickets for the tour, as well as maps to the sites, will beavailable at the Lawrence County Civic Center, where a lunch ofranch stew and several side items will be served from 11 a.m. to 2p.m.

The Quilters Guild of Calvary Baptist Church of Silver Creekwill have a display at the civic center and the Lawrence CountyMuseum will be open.