Louvale was a “place” long before the arrival of the railroad in 1891 made it “Louvale.” This log house was built about 1840 near here. The Columbus Museum acquired it in the 1980s, moving it to the Wynnton Road campus as an example of an early residence in the Chattahoochee Valley. The museum re-patriated the building to Louvale about twenty years later, and it now holds a new role as a community museum. The main features of this museum are the collections of projectile points of the Archaic Period (several millennia ago).
Dr. Hatchett's Drug store museum offers one of the finest collections of genuine drug store memorabilia in the world, housed in a turn-of-the-century building on Lumpkin's Historical Courthouse Square. See displays of medicines, medical equipment, and many other drug store items as they were over 100 years ago.
The Stewart County Historical Commission achieved something truly remarkable by acquiring and restoring this 1836 stagecoach hotel in 1965. The restoration became the very first small-town preservation project in Georgia. Local citizens banded together to raise money with cake, cookie, and cheese-straw sales. They approached philanthropists big and small, receiving cash donations as well as volunteering and decorative arts. They compiled local recipes and published The Bedingfield Inn Cookbook, which has sold around 12,000 copies over the years. They promoted the effort relentlessly in newspapers, television, and magazines throughout three states.
Moreover, the Commission resolved early on to use professional restoration techniques in those days before historic preservation was formalized as an academic discipline. The result remains today as one of the great preservation efforts in all the South. The collections were donated by local people from their own family holdings, which provides an integrity of place and time almost unique among house museums. Most of all, however, the museum continues to serve the public after more than half a century, representing a perseverance unparalleled in community efforts.
The Bedingfield Inn is a national treasure as much for the important building as for the community which maintains it.
In the late 1990s, the city received a grant from the Dept. of Transportation to restore the town’s depot. The building now serves as city hall in Richland and houses the Richland Rail Museum detailing Richland’s rich history as a transportation hub.
Richland’s Mayor at the time was a “railroad man” and the museum was just one of his innovative initiatives. The Richland Main Street and Richland Historical Committee worked with the mayor to develop the inventory for the museum over the course of a few years.
A Richland “primitive” artist, Kathy Blackburn, created an interior mural depicting a typical scene on the tracks. The crown jewel of the collection is a 1930s diesel-powered “speeder” car used by railroad men to check and repair tracks. The speeder car was actually stationed in Richland and used on the tracks in the area.
It took a private rail company, the Americus, Preston, and Lumpkin (AP&L), to bring trains to Stewart County in 1885. New communities erupted over the next ten years, such as Richland, Louvale, and Omaha as the AP&L expanded to become the Savannah, Americus, and Montgomery (SAM).
By 1890, the new City of Richland had burgeoned due to the rail’s influence on trade. Richland rivaled the size of the County Seat of Lumpkin by then. When Columbus businessman Gunby Jordan proclaimed that the new rail from Columbus to the south would not go to Bainbridge, but rather Albany, Richland became a railroad crossing. By 1891, Richland grew beyond Lumpkin’s size and has remained larger ever since.
The Richland Rail Museum is open week days from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.