You probably know about the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge. Its acres of woods and waters provide safe habitat for all kinds of birds and waterfowl. It almost seems a little tame for a refuge to be named for a guy who was called Fighting Joe Wheeler. Well, Wheeler was a man of many parts and there's no where you can see that better than his home in Hillsboro.
After a decade of work, Pond Spring Plantation has re-opened.
Melissa Beasley has been the Site Director for Pond Spring since the mid 90's, and she was there for all the renovation. It was expensive to not only save the house and out buildings, but also the contents.
"We've had to do it in phases, that's why it took so long," said Beasley. "We started with the foundation, and footings and worked our way up. Wiring and things people don't even see."
Among the things people will definitely notice -- new air conditioning and heating for the home. It was all added during the renovation, not for the people, but rather for the house and what's inside.
"Over the years, everything in the collection had molded and had mildewed," said Beasley. "So one of our goals during the restoration was the control the climate."
With the climate mission accomplished, all the historic material, from furniture to clothing to sundries was carefully cleaned and preserved. Now you can see it as the Wheeler family saw it. The house taken to the time period after World War One, when Joe Wheeler's daughter Annie, was busy turning the home into a shrine to her family.
Annie took care of her dad's uniforms from both the Civil War and Spanish American War. You can see his U.S. Army medals on display. In one corner of the display case, you'll see the pin he wore as Rex in the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans. The house shows a lot more than just the mementos of Joe Wheeler, there's Annie's nursing uniform from World War One, and there's brother Joe Junior's Golf Championship trophy from 1930.
"This is such a complete house museum. They walk in the door, and see how the Wheeler family lived," said Curator Kara Long. "Every piece of furniture, every book, every magazine, every piece of clothing. It's like stepping back through time."
You can take that step into the past at Pond Spring Wednesday through Saturday every week. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for seniors and students with ID and $3 for children 6 to 18. For more information go here.
Pond Spring - The General Joe Wheeler Home
12280 Alabama Highway 20
Hillsboro, AL 35643