DUBLIN — Back in a time when there was no Dixie Youth Baseball, no recreation basketball or soccer and none of the extracurricular activities the youth of today are involved in, scouting thrived as one of the most popular community organizations.
The time was the early 1950s, and the town of Dublin could boast of an active Boy Scout Troop — a group that would become the envy of many organizations both in and out of scouting with the construction of what became the town’s iconic Scout Hut.
“I remember working on it when I was 10 or 11 years old,” said Walter Bullard, who went on to earn his Eagle Scout badge with Troop 622 in Dublin and, after college, took over as the scoutmaster. “I know that, way back then, the Scout Hut was the place to be.”
Bullard added that, in its hey-day, the Scout Hut hosted numerous social events — including fish frys, birthday parties, civic meetings, reunions and wedding receptions — in addition to regular scouting activities and meetings.
Today, however, the 60-year-old Scout Hut, which is located at the end of Fifth Street, has been abandoned for the better part of 20 years. Its inside still has some of the old furniture, wood stove, American flags and posters used the last time Troop 622 met there — but it has clearly seen better days.
Now, the only use the Scout Hut has been getting is by neighborhood children and vagrants looking for shelter from the elements.
The Scout Hut was first conceived early in the 1950s, when trees were donated to the town for the purpose of building a log-cabin type of building.
“The men and boys of the community got together and cut, notched and got the logs ready to build,” Bullard said. “And through a lot of effort, the Scout Hut came to life.
“I remember Mr. Leonard was the first scoutmaster there,” he added. “Since I was just a young boy, I never knew him as anything other than Mr. Leonard. The troop was first sponsored by the Dublin Civics Club, then the Dublin Lions Club.”
Homer Thompson, who was also principal of the Dublin school, was the second scoutmaster for Troop 622, and was followed by Leon Butler.
After Butler’s departure as scoutmaster, Bullard said there was a gap between leaders.
“During that time, I think, the scouts themselves held meetings just to keep it going,” Bullard said.
Then, in 1968, Bullard returned from college and took over as scoutmaster — a position he held for 15 years.
“I really enjoyed my time as scoutmaster, and we had several Eagle Scouts come through there,” Bullard said, “though not many of the Eagle Scout ceremonies were held at the Scout Hut. Most of those were held at a church or the county courthouse because there was more room.”
Floyd Edge took over as scoutmaster after Bullard and the last scoutmaster for Troop 622 before its dissipation was Mrs. Richard Skinner, who moved the scout meetings to her home.
“The Scout Hut was starting to fall into disrepair and there just wasn’t enough interest to do what needed to be done,” Bullard said. “That was back in the 1990s, I’d say.”
Alex Hursey, who is now the leader for Cub Scout Pack 622 in Dublin and fire chief for Dublin Fire Department, which sponsors the Cub Scout Pack, also has some memories of the Scout Hut from his days as a Boy Scout.
Now, Hursey is among those in the area who would like to see the Scout Hut revitalized and used once again.
“I’m a community minded person, so I’d like to see Dublin be able to have a Boy Scout troop in town,” he said. “And it would be great if we could find a way to use the old Scout Hut.”
Bullard also would like to see the Scout Hut brought back to life.
“I’d like to see that happen,” he said. “It has a lot of historical value and it would be a shame if it was just left to fall apart.”
But while many think refurbishing the Scout Hut would be a worthwhile effort, there are different schools of thought concerning where the Scout Hut should be located.
“It’s in a bad location,” Hursey said. “It’s in a cramped and run-down area, so I’d like to see it moved — if that’s even possible. There are a lot of questions about that.”
Bullard said moving the Scout Hut would require some careful consideration and the work of a professional group familiar with such an undertaking. While he doesn’t lean one way or the other, Bullard isn’t opposed to leaving the Scout Hut right where it is.
“From the historical standpoint, getting it fixed up and usable on that site, along with getting the property lines figured out, would be nice,” Bullard said. “But I’m open to any plan that would bring the Scout Hut back to usefulness.”
Aside from its iconic historical value, one of the main reasons folks want to see the Scout Hut refurbished and used is because they also hope to recreate a Boy Scout Troop in Dublin.
“We’ve started and stopped so many times in the last 10 years,” Hursey said. “But we’ve got 15 Cub Scouts, and I’d like to see them have a Boy Scout troop to go to in Dublin.
“But we need someone to keep it going and build it up,” he added. “I can definitely see us moving into Boy Scouts, but it takes a lot of work.”
Anyone interested in helping with the Scout Hut project in any way can contact Hursey at 910-862-8654.