Located just one block north of the downtown square, the museum is housed in the historic Faulk-Gauntt Building. First built in 1896 as a grocery store, exhibits on the first floor continue to emulate a turn-of-the-century dry goods store while the second floor is a recreation of an early law office, parlor, bedroom, bath, kitchen, and schoolroom.
An earlier building at the location housed the law offices of Senator J.J. Faulk and Judge W.L. Faulk. In the early 1890s, the site was purchased by J.R. Gauntt, a local businessman. The son of pioneer area settlers, he operated a mercantile store, the Chany Tree, with his brother, R.L. Gauntt, and later ran a monument business. In 1896 he commissioned the Hawn Lumber Company to build this two story brick commercial structure near the rail lines, primary business location in the early days of Athens.
The upstairs area was first occupied by attorneys W.L. and J.J. Faulk. A native of Alabama, William Levin Faulk served as Henderson County Judge, district clerk and director of the Guaranty State Bank of Athens. His cousin James J. Faulk, born in Louisiana, served as county attorney, state representative, district attorney, state senator, special justice of the Texas Court of Civil Appeals, and the first mayor of the City of Athens.
The downstairs area first housed the grocery store of Tom Barber. Other tenants in the Faulk-Gauntt Building have included dentists, Dr. Dudly Payne and Dr. Thomas Matthews. The structure was later owned by descendants of W.L. Faulk.
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