This is one of the finest pieces of Folk Art that we have seen, especially for the student of Civil War history.
This is a faithful model of the Salem Baptist Church that sits just outside Fredericksburg, VA. The Salem Church played a significant role in the battle of Chancellorsville, as a defensive position for the Confederate forces, then a hospital for both sides, and the Battle of Fredericksburg where it was a safe haven for the townspeople while Fredericksburg was being shelled by the Union forces.
The Church building was donated to the National Park System in 1961 and remains a national monument today.
The bird house is a two-story affair with the second story hinged, allowing access to the first floor. A large entry port allows birds to access the second floor and a trap door allows access to the first floor. The first floor includes a pulpit and what appear to be two long pews that look to double as receptacles for bird seed. The bird house measures 11" x 15 3/4" x 15 1/2" tall.
The outside of the birdhouse is covered with paper that was painted to simulate a brick exterior with detailed window treatments. The roof is shake shingles with a brick chimney and flag pole with a tattered flag still flying.
Based on the construction, it is doubtful this bird house was ever intended to house our feathered friends. Instead, someone turned it into a shrine for the battle of Fredericksburg and the Southern soldiers that participated in the battle.
When the second floor is tipped up you find articles about the battle's participants along with an early photo of the church pasted to the bottom of the second floor. A hinged wooden panel was added to accommodate more printed material about the period. Interestingly, the bird house was made with a lock. The key hole can be seen in the upper section of the first floor center window.
Also included with the birdhouse was a large quantity of artifacts presumable from the area or possibly from the church and churchyard. These include: two early tin types, straight razors, lead bullets, gun parts and other materials. Please see the photos for a full view of the items.
We believe this piece was made in the late 1800's to the early 1900's. Some of the newspaper articles date to the 1920's. We have kept all the material together believing that there is significant historical value to the bird house along with the undisturbed contents.
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