Shortly after I started at McDuffie Museum, I was told the city had purchased property on Railroad Street to build a new government complex and would be demolishing quite a few old buildings.
Being a preservationist, I wanted to know the age and former use of the structures. At the time, I had no idea that a local legend named Jake McCord lived in one of the homes. I just knew that the area had significance because it was once a thriving industrial park.
Later, I was told Jake's cottage and the one beside it were black worker cottages for the cotton gin.
In February, Michelle Zupan, the chairwoman of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, told me the bureau had been discussing Jake's house, which the city would donate to the museum if we were interested.
I knew the whole house wouldn't fit in the museum, so I decided to get more information, and see what Jake most enjoyed about his house.
Everyone said Jake loved his porch. He would hang his paintings on it, and sit for hours in the rocking chair.
So many people have fond memories of riding down Railroad Street and seeing his colorful paintings on the porch. It was settled.
We would put Jake's porch in the museum.
I called Tim Walsh (a professor of historic preservation at the University of Georgia) and asked him to look at it and give me some tips about deconstruction.
While we visited and talked about the processes, I realized that he and his carpenters would be the best people to do the reconstruction, and he agreed.
In April, we started deconstruction.
The porch was really rotting in places, so we took more than we thought we'd need. It was a very dirty three days, but we finished deconstruction and hauled it to Hickory Hill (they donated storage space).
After months of coordinating schedules, we started reconstruction in mid-December.
The process was interesting to watch. First, they made framing and attached it to plywood that went up on the wall.
The decking was next, made from flooring from the house next to Jake's (which was its twin in design).
The window and door frames went up, followed by the siding.
The posts and rafters were next, and by that time it really looked like a porch.
We took a couple of Jake's paintings and hung them in their rightful places. And now, McDuffie Museum presents Jake's Porch -- not just a place for remembering a legend, but also for honoring all the blacks that called this place home.
This house represents so much of McDuffie County's history, and we're proud to have it in the museum.
Please drop by to see it.