Work is almost finished on the historic Littlejohn House replica at the Freestone County Historical Museum in Fairfield, and future plans for a public opening are under consideration.
Work began in December on the structure, with the first dirt work done right after Christmas. Most of the construction was completed by mid-July.
The original house was designed and built in 1908 by inventor Lonnie Littlejohn, who constructed the family home on 300 acres west of the Shanks community. The replica house project was funded by the Dick Clark III Foundation under the guidance of advisor Sherry Matthews, who grew up in the house.
Clark was an award-winning FAIA architect who admired the Littlejohn House and was among those who wanted to see it restored.
He died in 2017, but left his estate to a charitable foundation to fund worthy architectural and other special projects.
The replica was constructed by Campbell Custom Homes of Bullard, with the architectural survey and consulting done by Mark Thacker of Lindale.
The house joins a museum campus that already includes cabins that show Freestone county life in the mid-1800s. Board members say that the Littlejohn House is a representation of a later turn-ofthe-century farmhouse - a unique design that is obviously not a run-of-the-mill house - that brings with it the story of a family.
A walk through the unfurnished house reveals details that may be less noticeable once the rooms are full of displays and period furnishings.
Every effort was made to stay true to the reality of the old house, but once context is added to the details, they are easier to notice.
Custom made interior doors are made out of reclaimed lumber from the Shanks house, to copy the homemade doors that were originally there. Because of accessibility requirements regarding door widths, carpenters had to custom-make each door.
The original doors will likely be used for display purposes once the house is filled with artifacts.
The floral wallpaper was chosen because of its similarity to the original period wallpaper in the house, which was revealed three layers deep behind the baseboards.
Carpenters were able to salvage and reclaim original baseboards from out of the old house and if one looks closely, a mouse hole is visible near a corner in the northwest bedroom.
In the kitchen, the upper storage kitchen cabinet was salvaged from the house and reframed into the appropriate spot.
Looking out the front windows, visitors can see the brightly colored turned porch posts, which were kept close to the original as determined through old photos and family memories.
The replica mostly has 2-over-2 windows (two panes on top, two panes on bottom), with some 4-over-4 windows opening out to the porches.
The front door is the actual front door salvaged from the old house, not a replica, and the interior closet doors are original as well.
The fireplace was recreated based on photos the family had, and what was left there in the house. Some of the bricks from the house were re-used, the line of stones laid across the top of the brick fireplace are out of the original house, and the mantle and fireplace surround were copied from a picture the family had. Almost all of the wood
Almost all of the wood in the kitchen area was reclaimed straight from the house - floors, walls, cabinets - just not the ceilings and the windows.
The detail on the front of the house includes decorative cedar shingles on the eaves, with diamond-shaped windows within.
The original roof on the house was also made of wood shingles, but was later replaced with metal, which is why metal was chosen for the replica house at the museum (also for longevity and safety).
The pier and beam foundation is supported by concrete blocks with a textured concrete finish made to approximate the original limestone blocks.
A wheelchair ramp is located in the back of the house for ease of accessibility.
The next step in the process is landscaping, hanging family artwork, getting displays ready and planning for an open house event.
Museum officials say a formal public opening will be held sometime in the future, depending on COVID-19 status and COVID-19 safety procedures.