photo of the week

Hewn to Last

The Samuel D. Byrd house, like many of its era, was originally constructed with hewn logs, enclosing one room with two doors and no windows.  As time went by and conditions improved, or when necessitated by a growing family, the one-room home became a generously sized six-room dogtrot house.

The Byrd House at Poyen

Sunday, August 10, 2014
Pine Buff, Arkansas

Author’s Note:

Back in January 2012, I finally got around to meeting Hobart "Sonny" Byrd and his wife Betty.  I say that as if I knew their names before I finally got around to meeting them, but nothing could be further from the truth.  I had been admiring their faithfully restored dogtrot house just a tad west of Poyen, Arkansas, in plain view on U.S. Highway 270 for a long time, and finally decided to ask the big question.  I pulled in to what I figured was the domicile of the dogtrot owners, knocked on their door, explained what I wanted to do, and asked their permission.  They were gracious, informative, and gave me the run of the place.  Turns they were a wellspring of information, all of which made a good story worth telling again, so here it is — again.


Joe Dempsey 


Lasting Craftsmanship

A gap in newer walls reveals the original 1848 hewn-log construction.  Friction and the force of gravity are the prime movers in how this technique works.  So far, so good.

A Byrd in the House Since 1848

First Published on Sunday, January 15, 2012
Pine Buff, Arkansas

The old Samuel D. Byrd house sits a tad better than a mile west of Poyen, Arkansas, on U.S. Highway 270 — and it sure enough looks old, but few will probably guess just how old.  The structure was started in 1848 by you guessed it, Samuel D. Byrd.  That makes it 164 years old this year.

From the beginning until 2000, members of the Byrd family occupied the structure.  Hobart "Sonny" Byrd, a descendant of Samuel D. Byrd, and his wife Betty now own and maintain the property.  They live fifty yards or so to the east on the same parcel originally purchased by Samuel D. Byrd.

The structure was modified in 1850, 1896, and the early 1930s.  The sheet-metal roof was added in the 1950s, replacing the original pine-shake shingles.  Though Betty Hobart likes the patina of the roof as it is, she muses that it must be replaced soon.  She reported that she had heard rumors of a metal roofing material that emulates the look she likes.


The Dogs Can Trot Through.

You are looking at a prime example of why these structures are called "dogtrot" houses.  The breezeway on this one is eight-feet wide, which will accommodate a whole pack of dogs should they elect to trot through.  The original log room is to the left behind the front room on the left.  Next to the window on the right side of the picture you see a plaque identifying the inclusion of the Samuel D. Byrd house on the National Register of Historic Places.  As such, it is available for visits.  Click here to contact the Byrds via e-mail for more information or to arrange a visit.

Sonny and Betty Hobart take their work maintaining the family homestead seriously.  The inside of the house is furnished for the most part with family heirlooms, some dating back to the original structure.  The kitchen includes a wood-burning stove.  When you visit the Samuel Byrd house, you will get a good taste of history.  Sonny and Betty can regale you with details not available anywhere else.

If you are interested in a detailed history of the old home and family, go to our webpage about The Samuel D. Byrd House (click here to visit) and see a comprehensive history compiled by Sonny Byrd.

Photo Notes

Nikon D300, tripod mounted, ISO 200, Nikon AF-S VR Nikkor 18-200 G ED, all. All images composited, base exposures are: House exterior and corner detail, 1/160@f6.3; Dog trot detail, 1/125@f5.6. Post processed with Photoshop CS% extended.


see more
See the inside of the Byrd House
at Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,
including the kitchen, a storage room,
and the "front" room.  Also find a link
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