Stepping onto the grounds of the Scott Plantation Settlement is a bit like something out of a science fiction tale.
"It's like time travel," explains Scott Connections President Ed Williams. "When you walk into the park, there's almost nothing late 20th century. It's like walking into the 1950s and earlier. There's very few things that are modern by our standards at all."
This is the annual opening weekend for the settlement, which is open to the public 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 18 and which gives people a taste of old rural life just a short distance from the state's largest city.
The settlement sits at Ashley's Bayou in Scott, site of a Civil War skirmish and part of the Illallee plantation. Today, it's an outdoor farm museum and the home of about 24 structures from farms and plantations around the Scott area, dating from the 1830s to the early 1900s.
"Most of the buildings represent the mundane everyday life of the farmer and sharecropper," Williams says.
That includes small farmhouses, smokehouse, schoolhouse, blacksmith shop and even an old outhouse. They also have the old Scott train depot and a plantation owner's house.
All the buildings have been restored and while a few are used for storage, Williams says: "Almost all the houses have been fleshed out with furniture and the accoutrements of everyday life."
They're decorated carefully with the furniture, appliances and tools used by rural Arkansans decades ago.
The purpose, Williams explains, is to preserve and show what life was like for regular people.
"A lot of museums focus on something that happened on a specific site or focus on someone really important. This museum is a way to preserve the buildings from that time period and the everyday life of that time period."
There isn't a big celebration and will be no special activities for the first weekend. Those will come later in the year with the Scott Connections Rendezvous featuring crafts, activities and re-enactment camps April 29, the annual Spring Dinner in May and the High Cotton on the Bayou Festival in October.
Returning visitors will notice a few changes, though. Three "new" buildings have been added. There's a log house that dates to the late 1860s or 1870s and they've built a new pole barn to protect a replica 19th-century keelboat.
There's now an old country church, complete with pulpit, pews and historic stained glass.
They've also added more interior details to the Japanese-American house. At the end of World War II, Virginia Alexander, who owned the land the settlement sits on, recruited several Japanese-American families from the Rohwer internment camp to work for her in Scott. One house at the settlement housed one of the families and they've been replicating the house's postwar interior with help from one of the family's descendents.
The settlement is open for self-guided tours, but there are always two docents on site who can give more detailed, guided tours on the buildings and their contents.
And Williams recommends more than one visit.
"It is difficult to tour all the buildings at a time and do it justice, to really get the feel for what everything was like."
Weekend on 03/16/2017
Print Headline: Trip into the past preserves long-ago life at Settlement