A trip back to 1919

Bicentennial Park welcoming visitors to new attractions

By Cliff McCollum
Posted 10/2/17

A schoolteacher dressed in period clothing greeted students Wednesday morning as they stepped across the threshold of Bicentennial Park in Stockton with serious words.

“When you come past this …

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A trip back to 1919

Bicentennial Park welcoming visitors to new attractions

Posted

A schoolteacher dressed in period clothing greeted students Wednesday morning as they stepped across the threshold of Bicentennial Park in Stockton with serious words.

“When you come past this gate, you are entering the year 1919,” Teacher, as she called herself, said. “Leave behind all the ideas you have about video games and cell phones and technology and get ready to experience how the world was 98 years ago.”

Teacher, better known as Baldwin County historian and storyteller Harriet Outlaw, is one of the many volunteers that are helping to make this year’s slate of field trips to Bicentennial Park a rousing success.

Felisha Anderson, director of the Baldwin County Department of Archives and History, said the team of more than 20 volunteers are a necessity in helping to make history come to life at the park.

“We couldn’t ask for a better team of people in putting all of this together,” Anderson said. “Because of all of these people volunteering their time and support, we are able to offer children from across our area an authentic look at what life used to be like almost a century ago.”

Anderson said this year’s addition of the Little Red Schoolhouse, which was moved to the property through the help of the Baldwin County Commission, Baldwin County Public Schools and numerous private donations, will be an amazing asset to add to the already existing structures on the property.

“To be able to offer children a chance to see what school was like in an actual schoolhouse from that time period is almost unheard of,” Anderson said. “It gives a real sense of authenticity that adds to the experience, that gives the idea that some of these kids’ grandparents or great-grandparents could have actually attended that school or one just like it here in our county.”

Anderson said she was thankful for the continued support of the community and the Baldwin County Commission, who she said continues to make historic preservation and celebration a priority for the county.

Inside the schoolhouse, Outlaw, as Teacher, was instructing students the proper way to enter the schoolhouse and start their day, complete with a designated water boy, standing at attention by their desks, saying the Pledge of Allegiance to the 48-star flag and reading the Bible verse of the day.

Over at the Montpelier Methodist Church on site at the park, volunteer Claudia Campbell strums a guitar and leads her group of students in a series of hymns before telling them the history of the church that was built in 1906.

Other features of the day include a trip to the general store, complete with period accurate items for sale, a blacksmith presentation and a talk from a Native American speaker to learn about their local culture and history.

“The classes that come out here for these field trips get to spend a day fully immersed in history,” Anderson said. “It’s an experience that people would normally have to travel several hours to enjoy, but we’re able to offer a local experience with truly local buildings and artifacts.”

Anderson said the Baldwin County School System had already arranged trips for Bay Minette Elementary and Pine Grove Elementary to come and take part in the festivities, and said she had been contacted by schools in Mobile County as well.

“The mission of our department is to preserve and celebrate the history of Baldwin County, so by bringing these students in here on these field trips, we’re showing the new generations what life used to be like and why knowing about our history is so important,” Anderson said.

Field trips will be continuing throughout the school year, and Anderson said she expects to see many more people out enjoying the park and its amazing historical features.