Shaw Homestead is a historic site located in the Piney Woods country north of the Gulf Coast. The Gulf Coast Community Design Studio and Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain partnered on a conservation grant through the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The grant supported research and a series of community events to begin to use the site to tell the story of the Homestead’s history.
The research included interviewing family members and neighbors; collecting historic documents and photographs, and searching out remains of homestead activities such as locating the overgrown sites of the sheep dip, kitchen garden, fence-lines and livestock lanes. These historic site features were made accessible to visitors by the creation of trails made by community volunteers.
The community events were designed to explore the material culture of the site. Each event presented topical research with engaging activities. Topics included the timber industry, livestock ranching, and domestic production. Activities included trail making, planting, sheep shearing, and food preparation with traditional recipes.
The research was compiled into a series a booklets that were given to community meeting participants and used to create a project website. The final product of the NEA research was the creation of an electronic, self-guided tour instrument. Visitors to the site can check out handheld audio/video devices or download the tour on their smart phones to be able to enjoy a narrated presentation including historic images, maps and other information as they follow site markers through the trail. The use of portable electronic devises enables the Land Trust to begin to use the site for education and interpretation as they continue to seek funding to restore the house into a homestead museum.