NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - When the Clay House has its annual barbeque no one is a stranger.
"We kind of have developed a following of people that come to support us, shared African American Heritage Project (AAHP) president Paul Jackson. “I think we're building community togetherness."
The love of barbeque, fellowship and history are what supporters have in common.
Construction Coordinator with AAHP, Steve Chism explains, "We think of white history and black history, but it's all one history."
“Welcome to the Charlie Clay House. We’re going to enter thru the kitchen,” greeted restoration architect Charles Phillips to visitors of the 20th-century house.
It sits next to Zion Hill Baptist Church on Bois d’Arc Street. Phillips is supervising the restoration.
“We’re lucky that we have a number of the original cabinets,” said Phillips as he pointed to the wooden cabinets.
The Clay House is one of the two oldest structures in the Zion Hill Historic District. According to state historians, it’s the most intact turn-of-the-century African American district in the state.
"We're going to be doing a historical study that will help us understand the changes that the house underwent," explained Phillips.
"I'm learning, Mr. Phillips is teaching me, the difference between renovation and restoration," noted Chism.
Restoration takes patience but provides time for the good things in life that come with raising money.
Marion Upshaw sings in his heavy bass tone, ‘The Eyes of Texas’. He leans on the trunk of his car with a speaker making his loud voice, even louder.
Across the way, Chism shows off his cooker with the title The Holy Smoker painted on the lid. “The Holy Smoker rides again,” smiles Chism.
Right next to him the Rev. Donald Lacey pastor of Zion Hill First Baptist has his own pit going.
“The lesson I learned to barbeque Texas style, you still do it in the rain.”
"I always tell people I have only one secret ingredient. That's love," adds Chism.
Love may save an old house with its unique two-over-two grille windows which provide a view on the very ones restoring the past while building a future.
AAFP officer Jewel Green, says today “shows that we can come together, work tog