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The Folklore Center Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary!!

Published Wednesday, November 1, 2017 2:30 am

Howdy! Come In and sit a spell! Have you wondered what these buildings are doing here?

Well, if you pretend and look out the window, you might see Marie shooing the hens away to let the doodles peck the corn grains she shelled. Pam is carrying an armload of stove wood from the stack. Inez is over poking the fire and cutting apples for a pie. Tonight, we are going to have a platter of ham that Dad smoked. You probably have questions! Who would have lived here? How would they have gotten here?

This cabin is typical of a fine home on a small farm in the early 19th century in rural Alabama. How did it get here on a 21st Century school campus?

The Hoover Historical Society Folklore Center is located on the campus of the Bluff Park Elementary School in Hoover, Alabama.

The Folklore Center buildings and grounds were dedicated on November 9,1997, to help children better understand a 19th century small farm and family participation.

The setting is primarily early Alabama in the 1840s. Period furnishings and equipment are used wherever possible. The focal point of the Folklore Center is the two-story house of hand-hewn logs known as the Stinson Ole Place.

The house originally stood in rural Shelby County on a wooden plank road called the Columbiana Turnpike. Under the leadership of Jack Crouch and Charles Shelby, the house was dismantled log-by-log, and rebuilt on the Bluff Park Elementary School campus.

The house was furnished with items donated by members of the HHS and by funding provided by the City of Hoover. There is an outhouse, a watering trough, a springhouse, a plumping mill, a smoke house, a corncrib, and a small barn. A split rail fence surrounds the house. Jack Crouch nailed a red boot on the fence that could have served as a rural mailbox. A swept yard, two herb gardens, and a grassy area complete the fenced area.

How to best use this Folklore Center?

The HHS under the leadership of its president, Beth Kinsaul, set up a committee of interested members of the HHS, including active and retired teachers. The committee traveled to Montgomery to see how archives were stored properly.

They visited Old Alabama Town and spoke with artisans and docents. The group dissected The Alabama Course of Study. It was decided that first graders and fifth graders would be the target groups to invite to the Folklore Center.

Suggested activities, props, and conversation starters were offered to the volunteer docents during the first few years. The HHS paid for artisans to share their expertise with school groups such as an instrument maker; a mountain man; a potter; a weaver; a spinner; a basket weaver; a spinner; a basket maker; a soap maker; etc.

The Birmingham Quilter's Guild has been a steadfast group through the years, allowing each child the opportunity to stitch a quilted square. Peggy Sturdivant and Jack Crouch helped the volunteers develop scripts that encouraged the audience to join in a discussion about the family life on a small farm. Through the years, the names and faces of volunteers have changed, but it is the hope of those who have worked with the Scouts, Garden Clubs, Home School groups, and school groups that all will feel a connection with how our lives are different today.

The Stinson Ole Place helps students gain a better appreciation of the events that led to settlers arriving in this area. How did they get here? Why did they come here? Two common questions asked when touring the cabin are: “What do you see in this cabin that you would not find in your home?” and “What’s in your bedroom that you do not see in this bedroom?”

Doug Harkness has carried on Jack Crouch and Charles Shelby's leadership role in inspiring docents to encourage the audience to play an active part in their tour. Making soap, singing a song, pacing an acre, handling tools, stitching, and finding answers to an Itty Bitty Scavenger Hunt.

Our storytellers have typically entertained, and also educated the listeners about how food was preserved or how families survived hardships. As we celebrate the 20th year that our HHS has offered tours we love to say, “It’s always a great day on the Bluff for a field trip to the Hoover Folklore Center.”

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