Carter name lives on in historic mansion, 7-year-old descendant of Landon Carter
Published 9:33 am Friday, June 26, 2015
By Meredith RoAten
History seemed to come full circle as a descendant of the original Carter family paid a visit to the Carter Mansion, which is so integral to Elizabethton’s history. Landon Carter Brooks, 7, walked through the same halls as his ancestors more than 200 years ago. It was the boy’s first visit to Carter Mansion.
John Carter and his son Landon, Brooks’ namesake, began construction on the mansion in 1775, but it was not completed until 1780. John Carter died just one year later.
The fact that the oldest frame house in Tennessee has lasted so long seems miraculous, especially since it wasn’t in the state’s hands until the 1970s when new historic features of the house were discovered. Though the house only has one main beam to support it, and it is certainly no spring chicken, about 90 percent of the home is original, leaving no doubt about the great care taken with it by the City of Elizabethton and Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area staff.
Gillian Roberts, seasonal interpretive ranger at Sycamore Shoals, gives tours of the house Wednesday through Sunday, and her respect and admiration for the house are obvious.
“This area is really where it began for the state of Tennessee,” she said. “The Watauga Settlement was the first settlement outside of the original 13 colonies.” She pointed out that John Carter really knew what he was doing when he built the mansion. The elegant dentil crown molding, walls carefully painted to resemble the priciest styles of the period, and beautiful paintings displayed in the master bedroom and living room suggest a master architect was at work. Landon Brooks thought so as well.
However, it isn’t only the flawless aspects of the mansion that make it memorable. Some historians suppose the same earthquake that made Reelfoot Lake caused the molding in the house to be uneven. The names scrawled in black on the south-facing wall in the master bedroom were placed there to protect the home from Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Adding more mystery to the mix, the original deeds to the Carter Mansion were never found, as John Carter hid them in the early days of the mansion’s creation. Preserved and unpreserved aspects alike, the mansion still attracts new and old visitors with the depth and significance of its history, especially Landon Brooks.
“My favorite part was the portrait of Landon Carter,” Brooks said. “The mansion was cool.”
Star interns Karley Fate and Marly Conder contributed to this report.