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The Williams Home Restoration Project

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As you will see below, Betty Ann and Jerry have suggested a project that will move Granddaddy and Grandmother Williams old log house from the current site to a location in Graceville where they are building a heritage site.

Time is of the essence! They need someone to head the project quickly. It needs to be someone who is excited about the project who believes the money can be raised and can spend the time to get it done, or decide that it cannot be done. A final decision will be made on or before January 4th (NOTE: Changed the decision date again to undetermined. See new information below!)

If you are willing to head the project please contact Betty Ann or call her immediately.

Here are the details from Betty Ann and Jerry:

Latest Message - January 5, 2016

The deadline Jerry set for a decision on the Williams Home Restoration Project will be extended from January 4, 2016, to a later date. Since Jerry lives three hours away from Graceville and has many other pressing family and work responsibilities, it is taking longer for him to effectively take care of a number of important issues. He is currently working on the possibility of structuring the Old House Project deal in such a way that the entire cost of the project to the family will be $25,000.

Dr. Kinchen, the college president, told Jerry that all donations to the college for the project are tax deductible. Since we have a very large extended family, the money can be raised if everyone will help. Thanks to the family for their interest, the positive comments about the project, and the funds that have already been pledged.

In a recent correspondence to Jerry, Dr. Kinchen wrote, "I applaud your efforts to save a family and community heirloom." He certainly has experience in saving a variety of historic landmarks in the area as evidenced by Heritage Village. The Baptist College of Florida is not what we remember as BBI. It is a fully accredited four year college with a growing enrollment of young college age students. Dr. Kinchen had done an outstanding job of leading the college in a successful new direction.

Jerry needs and welcomes any help that can be given from the family with the project. As he continues to move forward with future details, please consider what you can do to help save the old home place.


Betty Ann Boswell

(For older messages continue reading below!)

October 24, 2015

Dear Family,

Jerry has to decide what to do with the old house when he sells his family's property in Graceville. Although he is overwhelmed with so many things to do, he has spent much time researching what can be done with the old house. He is considering several options, but he needs input from the family and our help. Allen has been a very important resource on the history of the old structure and has provided great information and many old pictures. His knowledge of the old house is detailed and really amazing.

Jerry has had a number of knowledgeable people look at the house, and they have told him there is some very valuable lumber there. One lumberman crawled under the house and told him that the wide plank oak floor had been milled at the lumberyard in Graceville and was sturdy and in good condition. Another expert experienced in restoration cut through the Sheetrock (a later addition on the original front) and found beautiful heart pine in good condition. Of course changes were made to the original structure inside and outside, and many areas are in disrepair. To help him decide what to do, Jerry has received information from a number of experts in several areas from salvage to restoration and preservation.

Martha and I told Jerry about Don taking us on one of our many "tours" around the countryside and town several years ago. Don knew a lot about local landmarks, the history, and people of the area. He made sure a number of cemeteries where we have relatives were regularly maintained, and he told us many interesting facts when we went with him to various places. He knew the area well, and his job often took him through an extensive area.

On one of those guided tours that we always enjoyed, Don took us to The Baptist College of Florida (formerly BBI) campus in Graceville where Heritage Village has been established with a number of historic structures from the area that have been moved there and restored. We recognized some of the old buildings and were amazed that the site was in Graceville. We talked about the possibility of the old house being a part of Heritage Village. Later after our trip there, we lost Don and our focus changed to other concerns, and we forgot about the village for a while.

If you are not familiar with Heritage Village, you can search "The Baptist College of Florida, Graceville" and see pictures of the village. On both Bing and Google the link, "Heritage Festival at The Baptist College of Florida" has some very good pictures of the village and information about events and activities.

Jerry talked to the college president who is very active in historic preservation and is the driving force behind Heritage Village. Jerry said that the president also likes to find Baptist history links to the village. I am sure all of you remember from Allen's Womble history book that Grandmother's father gave the land for New Home Baptist Church, contributed money, and helped build the church. Her family were charter members of the church, and she and Grandaddy were the first couple married there. Our parents were raised in the church. Also Uncle Johnny, Grandmother's brother, had an extensive life-long Baptist connection. Allen tells Uncle Johnny's fascinating story in the Womble history book.

It would be a tribute and a lasting memorial to our parents and grandparents to have their old home preserved in Heritage Village on the college campus. All of the Williams children were born and grew up in that old house. From an early age, the cousins gathered there with extended family, other relatives, and friends. The house represents the lives of many special people and is an important part of our memories.

Jerry said to imagine a journal or log or guest book having been kept with names and dates including ordinary or significant personal or historic events in the lives of the vast numbers of relatives and friends throughout the years who have had a connection to the family home. It would be an amazing, incredible document.

Since the 70th year for the Birthday Dinner will be next year, several projects are in progress, and this may be a big one to tackle. Jerry needs to know your thoughts and gauge your interest in saving the old house and what you think about moving it to Heritage Village to be restored. It will involve expense and work.

What do you think? Are you interested in the project? Would you be willing to contribute to a fund to help move the house to Heritage Village? Jerry needs your input to help him make a decision. Martha and I are willing to help Jerry and to contribute if the family is in favor of the project.

Please respond with your thoughts, comments, or ideas to let Jerry know whether or not you are interested in what happens to the old house and if you are willing to help. He wants to include the family in his decision, and what you think is important to him. He is dealing with a lot at this time. He needs our help.

Allen, thank you for getting Jerry's information to the family.



The following is the letter from Jerry Horne to Betty Ann Boswell:

Betty Ann,

I hope this finds you doing well. I have been in touch with Dr. Thomas Kinchen of The Baptist College of Florida (formerly BBI) about the prospect of donating the old house to the college for their Heritage Village. Things have progressed to the point where I need some help.

As things stand now, Dr. Kinchen wants to know if the cost of $20,000 to move the house to the village is out of the range our family is willing to donate (the cost is per estimates he sought). He has not indicated if the college or its funding arms (foundations, trusts, etc. ...) would cover the other costs associated with the project such as permits to move the house and restoration of the house once at the college. For now, he simply wants to know if the initial cost of is "outside of the ballpark" (those are his words) for our family to donate.

Note that to move the house, the roof and the porches will have to be removed. Indications are that the porches would not be put back on the home, though, of course, the roof would be. Instead of putting the porches back on the home, the home would be restored to look more like the original “frontier home” rather than the home as we knew it. The $20,000 gets the home ready to move, moved (less the permits), and the roof put back.

Let me give you some context about how we got to this point. I offered to donate the home to the college. I gave Dr. Kinchen some history on the home plus some history pertaining to Grandmother’s immediate family and their role in starting and building New Home Church.

Dr. Kinchen went and looked at the home, and then he turned me down on placing the home in Heritage Village citing the work involved and the costs. He wrote:

"...After looking at the amount of work that will need to be done in order to move the house and have it set up for display as well as the budget requirements, I feel that we cannot take on the project. ..."

I then told him that some in my extended family had expressed a willingness to contribute to offset the costs of getting the house from where it is now (location and condition) to Heritage Village. He then offered to get estimates for the costs involved and that is where we are today. He has gotten the initial costs (that is, the cost for moving the house), but wants to know if the costs are already outside of our range before proceeding.

This is where I need some help. Can you call and/or email family members and gauge their interest in giving to the project? The family would need to know that we may be asked for more than the $20,000, but then again, if we offered the $20,000 or something less than the $20,000, the college might offer to fund the rest.

I currently have my hands full, and it will be longer than I am willing to wait before I can do this myself. Perhaps you could enlist some other family members to help you get the word out and note responses.

Let me know. Keeping up the property coupled while caring for my Dad and addressing other issues is keeping us busy to the point that we need to sell the property soon.



Please leave your input in the comment section below, or eMail Betty Ann at

Allen O'Shields 2012