This log cabin is one of the oldest homes in Washington County. It was built on the east side of Bassett Creek near Wagarville in 1874 by Gibeon Jefferson Sullivan, a Confederate soldier who served in an all-volunteer company made up of men from Washington County. The cabin remained Gibeon Sullivan’s residence until his death in 1914. In 2009, his heirs donated the cabin to the Private Gibeon Jefferson Sullivan Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). They moved the cabin to its present location at Wagarville and are in the process of restoring it.
The Sullivan cabin is a good example of a log “dogtrot” home, a popular style for houses in the 19th century, especially in the South. A dogtrot house historically consisted of two log cabins connected by a breezeway or “dogtrot”, all under a common roof. The combination of the breezeway and open windows in the rooms of the house created air currents which pulled cooler outside air into the living area. The Sullivan cabin has two rooms on each side of the breezeway and a full-length porch on the front of the cabin.
The Sullivan cabin has one very unusual feature. Located on one end of the front porch is a wide flat slanted wooden board. This board is called a “cooling board”. The cooling board is notched underneath so it can be lifted and placed across a wagon bed. When a death occurred in the community, the cooling board was used by neighbors to transport the body to Gibeon’s home. It was then used for preparing the body for burial. The Sullivan cabin was a gathering place where members of the community came to pay respects and to grieve for the passing of their loved ones.
The Sullivan cabin was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage (ARLH) on August 5, 2010. It is located beside Highway 56 approximately 0.8 mile west of the intersection of Highway 56 and Highway 43 at Wagarville (GPS coordinates 31.443931, -88.044191).
Photographs that are provided show the main features of the Sullivan Cabin.
Sources: 1) November 2011 Alabama Living Magazine, published by Clarke-Washington Electric Membership Corp.; 2) “The Sullivan Cabin” Historical Marker; 3) ARLH “The Gibeon Jefferson Sullivan Cabin” Nomination Form.