This homestead was first settled in the 1880s, when the house was built under the conditions of the Federal Homestead Act, which encouraged adventurous settlers to move to Southern Mississippi. Around the same time, the railroad came to the area, which signaled the escalation of the timber industry. Before long, the land was being harvested for timber near and far, and logging towns quickly popped up throughout the area. However, this enthusiastic logging led to the complete clear-cutting of the region’s timber, and logging activity ceased entirely by the 1930s.
During the twentieth century, the Shaw property was primarily a sheep station, active from 1906 to 1958. Livestock in the region was raised on the open range until around 1960, when stock laws were first passed, mandating fenced-in farmland. From its inception, four generations of the Shaw family lived on the homestead until 1969, when Melvina Shaw evacuated for Hurricane Camille. The house remained unoccupied until 2006, when it was generously donated to the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain (LTMCP).
The restoration of the homestead was largely made possible through the work of Unabridged Architecture and Jim Schmitt of Bay View Construction Inc., and funding from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the Hurricane Relief Grant Program for Historic Preservation, which funds the restoration of properties that suffered hurricane damage. The National Endowment for the Arts provided support for a series of community events, presented by the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio and LTMCP, as well as an ongoing public program, embodied in this website and the podcasts available for download here, which offer a guided tour of the Shaw Homestead.