Saturday, June 15, 2013

Historic Washington State Park

I've been trying off and on all day to write something that would convey my excitement about where we went yesterday.  I just don't have words. So I'm just going to post the pictures, and then write a little about each one.  Just trust me when I say, we had a great day.  And if you ever get a chance to visit this place - do it!

So, this is where we were.  Historic Washington State Park.  It's a town.  Established in 1824. Where real people still live in real homes.  And, it's a state park.  Confusing at first.  But most of the buildings in town are owned by the park, and have been made into living history museums.  With real live people in period clothing in each building, who give guided tours and demonstrate how the folks lived way back when.

This home is now a wonderful restaurant called Williams' Tavern. We had a wonderful lunch with fried catfish, black eyed pea salad, fried squash, corn bread, yeast rolls and sweet tea.  And I hear their fried green tomatoes are the best!  And the price was less than a catfish meal at Red Lobster. Can't beat that!

This is the interior of the 1836 courthouse.  The nice man there told us that Washington was the seat of Hempstead County for several years.  And a prosperous little town it was, too.  But the town fathers turned down the railroads offer to build a line through the town. I mean, who wants a stinky old train running through town? No telling what kind of riffraff might come in! Then two years after they built a new courthouse across town, the county seat was moved to Hope, Arkansas.  And the town just kind of withered away.
This sweet lady showed us around the Sanders House and Farmstead.  She had such a nice laugh.  Everyone working at the park really seemed to love their jobs.





 Lucky for us, theses old homes are not exactly like they were in the 19th century.  Electric lights and central air conditioning have been discreetly added. 


 This huge Magnolia tree is the largest in the state.  I think they said it was planted in 1836. You can't see it, but the street on the other side of the tree has been closed, because the tree has taken over the street!  This is near the Royston Log House, where a very nice man told us about living in the 1830s–1860s.


This gentleman  was in the old newspaper shop, where there is a good collection of old printing equipment.  Cowboy even got to run an old printing press here!



 Next stop was the antique gun museum.  And the Cowboy was in hog heaven, for sure. I thought we'd never leave this place!

Another view of the magnolia tree.


These 3 pictures are furnishings from the Royston log cabin. 

This last pic is from the Block-Catts House, built between 1827 and 1832, a Federal "I" Style building that served as the home of Arkansas's first Jewish settler, Abraham Block. The House is also the oldest two-story, wooden-framed building standing in the state.

We also visited the candle shop, where we got to make our own candles, the 1874 Courthouse, and a re-creation of a frontier Blacksmith Shop. Constructed in 1960, it preserves the legacy of Bowie Knife. It also contains two working forges dedicated to preserving the traditions of Blacksmithing. 

Evidently, in 1831, James Black, the best known blacksmith in Washington, forged  the original Bowie knife for the frontiersman James Bowie.

There are lots of other buildings in the park that weren't open yesterday.  I can't wait to come back with the grandgirls and see some of the things we missed!

Here's a couple of websites where you can learn more about the Historic Washington State Park:
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