Ramsey House Plantation
The home called “the most costly and most admired building in Tennessee” by the 1800 census-taker is open for public tours. Ramsey House Plantation (2614 Thorngrove Pk., 865/546-0745, www.ramseyhouse.org, Tues.–Sat. 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Sun. noon–4 p.m., adults $7, children 6–12 $5) was built between 1795 and 1797 by master carpenter and cabinetmaker Thomas Hope for Col. Francis Alexander Ramsey.
Built in the late Georgian style out of pink marble, Ramsey House features intricately carved consoles and other distinctive decorative features. It was said to be the first stone house in Tennessee, as well as the first home in the state with an attached kitchen.
The site of the house is near the fork of the Holston and French Broad Rivers. It was close to a site called Swan Pond, a beaver dam pond well known by hunters and travelers. Col. Ramsey drained the pond to create pasture and farm land.
Ramsey House was the home of Col. Ramsey’s son, James G. M. Ramsey, a doctor, businessman, and author of an authoritative early history of Tennessee, The Annals of Tennessee to the End of the Eighteenth Century. James Ramsey and his wife, Margaret Crozier, raised 11 children at the home, then called Mecklenburg.
Ramsey supported the Confederate cause during the Civil War, and Mecklenburg was burned by Union troops during the war, destroying a valuable library and collection of early Tennessee antiquities. During the war years and until the early 1870s, Ramsey and his family lived in Atlanta, Savannah, and North Carolina. He returned to East Tennessee in the 1870s, and remained here until his death in 1884.
Ramsey House was purchased in 1952 by the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities. It has been fully restored and is open for tours, which include all rooms of the house, the kitchen, and the grounds. Ramsey House has a nice garden, where heirloom vegetables and other plants are grown.
Ramsey House is located off Gov. John Sevier Highway southeast of downtown. The easiest way to get there from downtown is to take Chapman Highway (U.S. 441) south out of town. Turn left onto John Sevier Highway (Hwy. 168). After crossing the Tennessee River, look for Thorngrove Pike on your right, and signs to Ramsey House.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Tennessee, 5th Edition