Follow along as you walk through the Fort
As guests exit the reception area, they will be in the main court yard with a nice grassy lawn and beautiful foliage. But in 1785, it would have been muddy with abundant livestock. The fence surrounding the Fort was to keep out the wild animals.
Main House and Kitchen
Looking ahead is the main house and kitchen – both original except for the doors, windows and roof. On the right is the kitchen and, as you enter and look around, you will see things as they were in 1785.
Note in particular:
- Huge fireplace of its time with key wound rotisserie and period cooking utensils
- Meal chest with two bins for corn meal and flour
- Pie safe on the left of the fireplace with legs in dishes where water was poured to keep bugs from the baked items
- Hanging dried beans, herbs, and other items dried in the manner of the period
- Cakes of lye soap, made from combining ash from the fireplace with water and pig fat.
- On the right, the stone dry sink
Take your time to see all of many items on display in the kitchen from this period and don’t miss seeing (probably for your first time) a real weasel that, in its day, would actually go “pop.”
The Dog Trot
Leaving the kitchen, you will go across to the Main House and will pass through the area called the Dog Trot. Note the churn and other items there that were used in this area because there was usually a cool breeze blowing through.
The Main House
The first floor was like our modern living room and includes:
- The two tables which belonged to the Lawson family, made about 1750 and constructed of wild cherry on the top and mahogany on the side panels
- Desk in the corner made for James White; no pegs or nails were used in the original construction
- On top of the desk are silhouettes of Charles and Margaret (White) McClung and over the desk is a map of the original layout of Knoxville
Other interesting items include:
- The clock on the mantle ordered by James White in about 1817
- The table next to the door used for serving purposes or high enough for eating while standing
- Five pieces of the tea set given by James White to his wife in 1817
The upper floor was primarily for sleeping and usually accommodated 10-12 family members. The beds include:
- A rope bed (1780), a spindle bed (1820), a large cannon ball poster bed (1850), and the bed in the corner (1820)
- Note the chamber pots of the day
The next building are restorations of what stood here originally using logs of equal age to the Main House. (The Fort was fully restored to visitors in 1970.)
The Well and Smokehouse
Walking to the left when exiting the Main House, guests will see the well and behind it is the ash hopper where lye soap was made. The smokehouse was used to smoke and salt hogs and contains many of the original devices used in that process.
Outhouse and Weaving House
Walking on left, guests will pass the outhouse – ours is a two-seater, and you can imagine how important the leaves from that nearby tree were at that time.
On down to the left, the weaving house houses tools and implements used in making cloth for clothes and other necessary linens since there were no stores in those days where people could purchase ready-made clothes.
Note: the fine arrowhead collection dredged from the Tennessee River in the 1930’s and other interesting items on display in this house.
Walking across the courtyard, guests can enter the guest house which, in its day, could accommodate a large number of James White’s guests. Next door is James White’s millstones that were used for grinding.
The blacksmith shop is where tools of the farm such as hoes, plows, horseshoes were made. It is operational today and often brought to life by a local blacksmith for demonstrations.
After touring the Fort, guests will exit through the gift shop where they will find a display of interesting period items, unique gifts, and interesting books for purchase.
The Historic Homes of Knoxville
The Historic Homes of Knoxville is a local partnership between the seven historic homes in Knoxville. You can visit each site individually or visit all of the sites by purchasing a combo pass at any of the seven locations.
In addition, each historic site offers special events throughout the year, guided tours and rental options. See more details at Knoxville Visitors Center.