On Oct. 14, 2019, FCHM board members Linda Mullen and Don Awalt met and signed, a building contract with the Dick Clark III Foundation donor advisor, Sherry Matthews (formerly Sherry Smith of Teague and representative of the Littlejohn family), to proceed with the reproduction of the 1900s Littlejohn home, situated on a nearly 300 acre farm, from the Shanks community.
Original plans were to have the uniquely designed home moved and restored. After much research and consultation with historic architect Mark Thacker of Tyler and others, the Littlejohn family learned that the structure was not stable enough to be transported and less than 15% of the original house could actually be restored. A reproduction of the home, with its southern wings angled at 45 degrees, three porches, steep gabled roof with geometric wood shakes on the gables, and tear-drop wood siding has been built, using artifacts from the original home and new materials that will retain the authenticity of the original construction. The 1908 farm house was designed and built by Lonnie B. Littlejohn (inventor of many unique vegetable and fruit cross breeds, a four-wheel drive mechanism, and a steel tire).
Campbell Custom Homes of Bullard, TX has overseen the reproduction. Foundation work began in early Dec. 2019, with the floor being completed by mid-January and the roof being completed by the end of February. By the end of April, the siding had been completed and painting had begun. By July 24, 2020 the construction phase of the Littlejohn House was completed; with the kitchen floors, walls, doors and cabinets crafted of woods from the original house.
Descriptive displays were designed and placed throughout the house, giving much of the historical information about the home and family's history.
The museum board is very thankful to the Dick Clark III Foundation for completely funding the Littlejohn project. Clark was an award-winning FAIA architect who admired the Littlejohn house and was among those who wanted to see it restored. He passed away in 2017, but left his estate to a charitable foundation to fund worthy architectural and other special projects. The unique architecture of the Littlejohn home is now preserved for generations to come.
Open house was held Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022 and a ribbon cutting ceremony was held. The event was well attended with most of the Littlejohn family descendants in attendance.
1881 Jail in 2012 before restoration began
This project began in earnest in 2012 and is now completed with the exception of having the historical marker corrected. The board hired the Architectural Firm of Sinclair & Wright of Tyler to conduct a special preservation study. A Historic Preservation Investigation was then prepared by architect Mark Thacker.
It has been an ongoing restoration project, starting with asbestos abatement and removal of the dilapidated non-original front porch in 2013. In early 2014, window reproduction was begun and was not completed until 2015.
Every year has seen at least one section completed, including addition of new period doors (2016), replacing some exterior brick work (2017), replacing rotten flooring (2018), removal of non-period walls and repairing/restoring more brickwork (2019), and replacing the roof coating (2020). Steve Grecu, Home Improvement General Contractors, of Streetman completed most of these repairs. Doug White recreated the jail bar windows (2020) and restored the gallows trap door from the 1914 jail that is now on display upstairs. Custom made cells were created to exact measurements as recorded in the 1886 Fairfield Recorder.
In late 2020, Campbell Custom Homes, of Bullard (same company that completed the Littlejohn reproduction) agreed to complete the project. Open House was held Oct. 2, 2021.
Much thanks goes to the city of Fairfield, The Freestone County Historical Commission, and several private foundations for funding this project. Also much thanks goes to the Sessions family for sponsoring the publication of Freestone Past and Present by J.R. Sessions, Jr. and for allowing the proceeds of this book to be applied to the jail restoration.