Historic Rock Castle

Historic Rock Castle is in Hendersonville, Tennessee on the banks of Old Hickory Lake. It was built by General Daniel Smith and the construction started on or after 1784. Smith lived in the original log cabin until 1787 when it got burnt to the ground by Indians. This area was the tribal hunting ground for several tribes of American Indians.

What the Indians were trying to tell all the settlers was to get off our lands. For Daniel Smith this land was payment for work done. For service in the Revolutionary War, a land grant of 3,140 acres was given to him. The only way to claim it was to live on it.

Below is the front view of Rock Castle.

Daniel knew that there was limestone nearby and it would make excellent walls for his new house. Men were found that could harvest the limestone and carve it into blocks for the house structure. The walls were 22 inches thick which gave great protection from the Indians.

The first stage of the house was only two rooms. This was normal for cabins in the 1780's. The floor on the first stage was stone but wood was needed to finish the house. It was harvested from nearby trees and craftsmen were hired to do the work. Once finished, Daniel and his family moved in and started plans for the multi-level addition.

From 1783 - 1793, General Daniel Smith and his wife Sarah were frequent boarders at Mansker's Station because of Indian attacks. That was where Daniel and Captain William Bowen compared notes on house building and worked together to find skilled masons from Lexington, Kentucky to build the walls of both their houses. They also worked together to buy window glass for their homes and brought it overland on Pack-horses.

The work of overseeing the construction of the house and other buildings on the plantation was done by Daniel's two nephews that were skilled carpenters. They were Peter and Smith Hansbrough who came from Stafford County, Virginia. Their father Peter Hansbrough married Daniel Smiths's sister Lydia.

Sarah, Daniel's wife. She had the job of overseeing the plantation because of the surveying trips kept Daniel out for long periods of time.

The plans for the completed house were to be a blend of the Georgian and Federal period architecture. There would be a basement, four rooms on the first level, three second floor rooms and an attic.

Construction was difficult because a few of the builders were killed by Indians and once word got out, workers were harder to find. Also some of the wood needed for finishing the interior was harder to find so this slowed down progress.

The Joists and rafters were made of oak and cedar from the river banks. The window frames and sills were made of hewn poplar, the front porch columns of cedar, and the shingles were of cedar.

In 1796 General Daniel Smith deeded 305 acres to Smith Hansbrough indicating the house was completed and this was payment for construction.

The kitchen above was quite nice with the woodwork. They had a cabinet-maker live with them during the construction of the house. He installed several built in cupboards, and the interior paneling used around the stairway and mantels all made of black walnut paneling along with other fine woodworking in the house.

Here is the staircase that leads up to the upstairs bedrooms.

The above picture shows the bedroom which was quite stylish for the frontier.

The Picture below is the smokehouse which was also made of block.

An interesting note, was that Smith Hansbrough's daughter married a Sample. Their child, Smith Hansbrough Sample married Margaret (Peggy) Ann Buchanan, the Grandaughter of Major John Buchanan which Buchanan's Station was named. John Buchanan was one of the founders of Nashville. Buchanan's Station was where the battle of Mills Creek that saved Nashville was fought on September 30, 1792.

There is an Irish festival held in march at Rock Castle. It is called, Sham Rock Castle. It is a Friday night event that last 2 and one half hours with food, dancing and song. You will have to contact Rock Castle to get up to date information since there is no web site information.

Below is a video that Miranda Lambert made in front of Rock Castle.

Be sure to stop by the Visitors Center to buy a ticket for the tour. The location is 139 Rock Castle Ln, Hendersonville, TN 37075-4522

There are daily guided tours and the last one is at 4pm. Open Tuesday - Saturday 9am - 5pm. 615-824-0502 E-mail: rkcastle@bellsouth.net

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