Georgia Southern graduate student Alison Darby recently completed an extensive research project on the historical Aldrich home that is on exhibit each year at the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair. The Aldrich house has been part of the fairgrounds since 1975 and is only open to the public during the fair each October.
Recognized as an important part of local history, the Aldrich house stands in its place on the fairgrounds for many to view, but not much was known about its complete history.
This year, the Kiwanis Club partnered with the Georgia Southern University History Department in providing an internship for graduate students.
“The information was always out there, however, the Kiwanis Club needed a historian to go out and gather the research and present it in a cohesive, historical narrative,” Darby said.
In addition to gathering the history of the house, Darby developed an educational website, TheKiwanisAldrichHouse.com that includes additional information about the history of Bulloch County in relation to the three families that owned the home.
“The Aldrich house website is designed to help teachers and students learn about local and state history,” she said. “Also included is an eighth-grade lesson plan that follows the Georgia Standards of Excellence.”
From her research, Darby found that the house was built in 1886 by McCrone G. “Dock” Bland and is one of the oldest buildings in Bulloch County.
Originally located on Harville Road, the Aldrich cabin was constructed from pine logs and wood siding and has a tin roof. The style of the home followed a traditional southeast style known as “dogtrot,” which meant it had an open passage in the center of the home, with rooms on either side, for air to circulate and keep the home cooler in the hot summers.
The house passed through other owners before the Kiwanis Club moved it to its current location in 1975.
“I want the visitors who come through the house to make a personal connection with the history of the three families, as well as the history of Bulloch County.”
The research project was Darby’s thesis for her Masters of Arts in History degree. The research student said she hoped to get a job at a museum or research library now that her degrees are complete and said she enjoys uncovering unknown information.
“Learning about history is easy for me,” Darby said. “Even when I was not in school, I was watching documentaries or reading books about different historical events.”
Darby believes it is important for students and adults to learn about history. “By studying history, we learn from past mistakes and that knowledge helps us move forward as a country.”
She also has advice for kids to encourage a passion for history.
“Do not limit yourself to learning about history through your textbook,” Darby said. “Go to the library and find a time period or person that interests you and do your own research. “