On the northwest corner of the Faulkner County Courthouse grounds is a restored dog-trot cabin that is part of the Faulkner County Museum. Through much effort and dedication by the Faulkner County Historical Society, it was relocated and restored there in the 1960s.
Known as the old Greathouse place, it was originally located at the intersection of State Highway 36, the road running north-south from Little Rock to Batesville, and U.S. Highway 64, the road running east-west from Memphis to Ft. Smith. The area was known as Crossroads, still in Pulaski County at that time.
The Greathouse place, owned by Daniel Greathouse, was widely known as a stopping place for travelers. It also served as a stage coach stop and was known to some people as the stage coach house. John Butterfield, contracted to carry mail from St. Louis to San Francisco from 1858-61, traveled two routes to deliver the mail; one went by the Greathouse place.
Daniel Greathouse, who was 13-years-old when his family moved to Arkansas in 1815, was a well-to-do farmer and landowner. He married Elizabeth Mangess on September 13, 1825 and the couple had four children—Robert Ambrose, Eudora Maria, Sara Ann and Mary Etta. He died in April 1936 at his home at Crossroads at the age of 38.
The house was originally constructed of 18-foot hand-hewn cypress logs. It was chinked with mud from the banks of the nearby Palarm Creek. A certain place on the creek, known as “Bear Cave,” provided mud to area residents for this purpose for many years.
The Greathouse family continued to live in the house until 1851. Thereafter, various families resided in the house until it was moved. In 1962, Mr. and Mrs. Alton Bryant offered the house to the Faulkner County Historical Society. It was temporarily moved to the Conway Municipal Airport where it, unfortunately, was abused by souvenir hunters and vandals as well a subjected to target practice by shooters.
The history society moved it to the courthouse grounds on a trailer truck in March 1965, but restoration efforts were soon postponed as Conway dealt with the ravages of the April 10, 1965 tornado that struck the city, killing six people and causing $5-10 million in property damage. Restoration work would eventually be resumed.
When the house was moved, much of the original logs and paneling was still in usable condition. The north room of the house was reconstructed entirely of the original logs, ceiling beams and wall paneling. In the south room, it was necessary to replace a small amount of the wall paneling and ceiling.
Pieces of the molding and original doors were used as a pattern to make new molding and doors for the house. The Brannan brothers, who operated a mill south of Conway, fashioned the molding pattern which had been out of style for many years. The windows were copied from the originals and installed without putty, as they were originally installed. Some of the facings and all of the base jambs are original.
The stonework for the chimneys was constructed to conform to photographs made of the house and the fireplace mantels were hewn to conform to descriptions of the originals by former occupants of the house. The original house had hand-rived cypress shingles; the restoration has split red cedar shingles.
The two 18’ x 18’ foot main rooms are separated by an open hallway, the “dog trot,” and a stairway in the hall leads to the loft that was used as a sleeping quarters. The lean-to at the back of the house was used as a kitchen.
A dedication ceremony was held at the Greathouse Restoration on June 26, 1966 with Frank Robins III presiding. Stanley Russ, representing the Chamber of Commerce, spoke to a large gathering as did SCA Professor Simms McClintock, the primary dedication speaker.
The Greathouse Restoration will be open and decorated for the holidays during the Faulkner County Museum’s 16th annual open house which will be Saturday, November 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Information for the today’s article came from an article by Guy Murphy, written in the Faulkner Facts and Fiddlings, Summer, 1966 issue.