Because the log house epitomizes the frontier heritage of which so many Alabamians are proud, it is ironic that so few of these historic structures survive today. Those that do rarely retain their historic character. A recent county-wide survey in Lawrence County (sponsored jointly by the Lawrence County Historical Commission and the Alabama Historical Commission) has turned up a remarkable concentration of more than thirty antebellum log houses in the southern part of Lawrence County, most of which are abandoned or neglected.
These log houses illustrate the building practices and lifestyles of the agrarian middle class of antebellum Alabama in a way that few other buildings in the state can. All too often, efforts to preserve antebellum structures have focused largely on the houses of wealthy planters, while little attention has been paid to the houses of small farmers, who constituted the vast majority of the state's inhabitants. Well-intentioned efforts to preserve these buildings have also led to their diminution a historic structures. Log houses have frequently been moved, after which they no longer relate to their landscape, or they have been stripped of historic exterior finishes in an attempt to expose the logs. In fact, though some north Alabama log houses may have had exposed logs and chinking originally, many were whitewashed or even weather-boarded soon after they were built.
Alabama's Endangered Historic Landmarks
Each year since 1994, Alabama Heritage has highlighted threatened historic sites throughout Alabama. The “Places in Peril” list has identified more than 215 imperiled historic resources throughout the state, and is compiled by the Alabama Historical Commission and the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation. The locations highlight the results of deferred maintenance, perceived obsolescence, development pressures, and lack of funding—forces that now more than ever threaten our cultural legacy. But awareness is a powerful force, too, and can cultivate a renewed determination to be responsible stewards of our heritage. For more information, visit the AHC or the ATHP websites. Alabama Heritage is proud to bring to you a selection of the places designated as perilous. Please keep your comments to information relevant to the featured place in peril. Alabama Heritage reserves the right to delete any comment that we deem inappropriate.