Samuel and Mary Alexander, natives of South Carolina, came with their children and slaves to cotton-rich Columbia County in 1855 and lived in a log cabin until their dogtrot house was completed. The long one-story side-gabled house with exterior end brick chimneys and an open central hallway is unusual in being raised five feet off the ground. Constructed with a sturdy cypress-braced frame, the house was originally upheld by huge cypress logs, two of which remain, the others long ago replaced by brick piers. It can be considered a dogtrot house only in the sense of having an open central hallway. The pioneer dogtrot house type (once popular in all sections of the state in both log and frame construction) featured two large rooms of approximately equal size, covered by a common roof with an open, central hallway. In the Alexander House, however, each of the large rooms opening onto the hallway is divided into two, and two additional small rooms are added onto the back, resulting in an unusual six-room plan. The only entrance that opens directly to the outside (instead of the open hallway) is a porchless door on the back of the house leading to a small dining room, a convenient feature when the original detached kitchen still stood nearby. As to its height from the ground, given Columbia County’s proximity to northern Louisiana, it is tempting to proffer a connection to the traditional Louisiana raised-cottage house type, but no such connection has been established. Family members suggested the distance from the low ground was to offer some relief from mosquitos and possibly as a precaution against flooding from nearby Corney Creek.
When first constructed, the dwelling stood adjacent to cotton fields and faced the Camden, Arkansas, to Shreveport, Louisiana, road, a well-traveled route (especially by cotton planters) that connected the Ouachita River and the Red River. In 2017 the house was moved from what had become a secluded and forested area to Washington Street on the university campus in order to ensure its preservation.