“I just love everyone.”
That’s what Mary Kemp said of those who came and took in the beauty and history of the 35th Annual Shaw/Kemp open house.
The property, a few hundred acres south of Weatherford, was homesteaded by Thomas Jefferson Shaw beginning in 1854. The Shaw-Kemp log cabin, available for the public to tour, was built in 1856.
The Jordan Shaw house, also available for visitors during the open house, was built in 1918.
Also on the tour were other buildings which were spared the ravages of time by being purchased and moved to its present day location, or built in recent decades as imitations of buildings from that time period. Buildings on the property include a jail, bank, barber shop and bath house, grocery story and post office and a combined school and church.
It wasn’t until 1975 that Kemp and her husband purchased the property at the request of a member of the Shaw family nearing death.
Kemp, who grew up less than a mile from the property, said the Kemps and Shaws were like family. During the time of the Great Depression, Kemp says her family survived because the Shaws decided to sharecrop their larger piece of land with the Kemps and also allowed them to hunt squirrels and gather pecans on their land.
After purchasing the property and then bringing the buildings, Kemp then began inviting first school children to see the buildings throughout the year and then anyone wishing to come to the annual open house.
“I couldn’t do it with out all of these wonderful volunteers,” Kemp added.
Volunteer Nadeen Murphree said it is a “wonderful” place.
“It’s wonderful to see a place like this that take you back in time,” Murphree said. “It’s fun to see the children’s faces when they come and ask, ‘What was this for?’”
Tom and Gwen Armstrong, first time guest from Dublin, applauded Kemp for her continued efforts.
“I want to tell you, you have done an excellent job,” Gwen told Kemp. “This place is gorgeous.”
Lori Matthews of Weatherford, also a first timer, echoed similar sentiments calling it, “awesome.”
Those children and their families toured the old buildings and also played on old playground equipment, rode behind a tractor and heard live music.
Volunteers dressed the part of people from that time period, including a banker and characters from the Andy Griffith Show including Sheriff Andy and Otis, the town drunk.
The beautiful scenery of the property with the bluebonnets in bloom is also an attraction as families take photos in the fields of flowers. Some expressed concerns that the bluebonnets would not be as full after a dry start to the year, but the flowers still covered areas of the property.
Kemp said the open house has become known as a reunion for some that attend and it is an event she looks forward to each year.