Walker County Historic Preservation Commission met recently to name a 10-member panel to research LaFayette history. The panel will write a book, “The History of the City of LaFayette from its Inception to the Present.”
“The Preservation Commission has proposed that we do the history of LaFayette,” Walker County Commissioner Bebe Heiskell said. “They recommended people whose families go way back (to be on the panel). They will research the history and will start at the beginning like a saga.”
To the panel, Heiskell appointed Dr. Robert Jones, chairman; Joan Wardlaw Fowler, secretary; Harry Millard and Sherman Gibbs, who helped with two previous county history books; Anita Henry, Avis Thomas, Wanita Farris, Henry Gilbert, Martha Dennis and Robert Suttle.
The panel will meet each week on the long-term project.
LaFayette was founded in 1833, but records in the courthouse burned. The history from 1833 to 1883 is only known by word-of-mouth, Heiskell said.
“This is a book that we hope they can sell to raise money for historic purposes,” Heiskell said.
“Jimmy and Charlotte Wardlaw will donate the (former LaFayette) Long John Silver’s building to the county, and we will use it as an office for the Preservation Commission,” Heiskell said.
Heiskell encourages anyone with historical documents or memorabilia to donate them to the commission for display at the office.
“We have talked about complimenting the Marsh House with the Long John’s building by using the same colors,” Heiskell said. “We are thinking about making it a welcome center to the Marsh House.”
The group plans to renovate the building by tearing out the kitchen and booths out to accommodate desks and office space in the back and to allow space in the front for historical displays.
“I hope it (the Long John Silver’s building) will look a little like the Mount Vernon building,” said Louise Otting, liaison between the Preservation Commission and the Walker County Historical Society. “I think that it would make a good welcome center (to the Marsh House.)”
Panel members plan to interview LaFayette residents for their research.
Interviews will be taped and professionally recorded. The group plans to approach a professional writer to help put the interviews in book form.
“The history book will read like a novel,” Otting said. “It will not be fact after fact. It will probably be a two- or three-year project.”
The panel will be coached by Walker County African American Historical Society and Alumni Inc. President Beverly Foster, author of history books pertaining to black heritage.
Foster gave the panel an outline to help them get started and plans to meet with them again next month.
Otting said the Preservation Commission allows Walker County to apply for historical grants.
“It (the preservation commission) will prove to be profitable to preserve the county,” Otting said