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McCollum-Chidester house adds to historical richness of city | Arts & Culture

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McCollum-Chidester house adds to historical richness of city

Camden has several houses that are immersed in history, many of them preserved, like the McCollum-Chidester House, built around 1847.

During the Civil War, the home served as headquarters for Union General Frederick Steel. The Battle of Poison Springs took place during this time.

The first occupant who built the house was Peter McCollum, who was a local merchant. The house held many ‘firsts’ for the area, including a large iron cookstove and one of the first sewing machines, which still sits inside the house.

The second owner, John Chidester, ran a mail-carrying business and was considered a spy by the Union because he allegedly looked through government mail to help the Confederacy.

Today, the Ouachita County Historical Society owns the house and uses it for its headquarters, but it is also a museum. The furniture inside the house was purchased from two of Chidester’s sons in 1963. The museum is located at 926 Washington Street.