LMU Adds Pioneer Village to Celebrate Heritage
Lincoln Memorial University’s (LMU) new Pioneer Village, located in the shadow of the Huff Tower, highlights the heritage of our community and will provide learning opportunities for younger generations who visit the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum (ALLM). It features a replica log cabin of Lincoln’s birthplace and other structures typical of the pioneer era.
“The Lincoln birthplace cabin represents the frontier environment in which he was born, giving us a clear picture of what life was like during his formative years,” said LMU Chairman Autry O.V. “Pete” DeBusk. “It seemed to be the right place to start, recreating a symbol of our namesake’s origin. We did some research, got some ideas about what it needed to look like, and we set out to make it as true to the times as possible.”
The single room, or “pen,” was built to the same dimensions the traditional Lincoln birthplace cabin Kentucky had before it was shortened to fit inside the birthplace’s memorial building. It is made from original logs from authentic nineteenth-century structures. The roof trusses and most of the logs came from DeBusk’s grandfather’s old home. While early settlers sealed the spaces between cabin logs with animal hair and mud, the Pioneer Village replica use modern materials to ensure a long-lasting building. The cabin also features a detachable chimney made of sticks, just like the ones built by pioneers who had to be able to pull their chimneys away with horses to prevent catastrophic fires. The door hinges are fashioned from leather, and much of the construction is held together by wooden pegs.
Additional period logs make up the replica of the birthplace of Andrew Taylor Still, a Lee County physician born in 1828, who founded the field of osteopathic medicine.
“Once these two cabins began to take shape, the project generated quite a bit of enthusiasm in the community,” DeBusk said. “More and more people came forward with period materials and period structures they wanted to donate. Our original two-cabin exhibit has become a full-fledged historic village, featuring many of the outbuildings typical of nineteenth-century Appalachian farms. Visitors can see a smokehouse, a corn crib, a root cellar, a cow barn, a blacksmith shop and, of course, the old dependable outhouse.”
"We're pretty excited about the possibilities this offers for diversifying our public and educational programming,” said ALLM Director Michael Lynch. “We'll be able to do some hand-on living history demonstrations for kids, and we're hoping to add some events focused on pioneer and Appalachian lifeways and crafts to our calendar."
The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum has closed its doors for one year for extensive renovations. The expansion will include more exhibit space for displays on the history of LMU and the ways Lincoln has been remembered, a dramatic new main entrance, and improved visitor facilities. The old galleries will also see some updates and improvements.
“We expect this project will bring national attention to the museum and to our campus,” DeBusk said. “While the Pioneer Village will give our guests a firsthand encounter with the ways our mountain forbears lived.”
Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The main campus is located in Harrogate, Tennessee. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate programs available at LMU, contact the Office of Admissions at 423.869.6280 or email at [email protected].