Carter Mansion is a hometown treasure

Published 9:25 am Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Star Photo/Victoria Perkins  The historic Carter Mansion, once home to early residents John and Landon Carter, is the oldest frame house in the state.

Star Photo/Victoria Perkins
The historic Carter Mansion, once home to early residents John and Landon Carter, is the oldest frame house in the state.

The tour of the Carter mansion is my second favorite adventure I’ve had. I really enjoyed learning about the history of the home itself and my hometown. What many people don’t really know, or at least I didn’t, is that Carter County got its name from John Carter and his family.
Carter moved here from Virginia in 1770 to open a trading post with William Parker on the Holston River. The trading post may not have been the best idea. When Carter and Parker refused to travel to the Cherokee Indians’ villages with their goods the Indians raided Carter’s outpost. In 1772 Carter moved into the Watauga River Valley. The area at the time was declared, by England’s King George III in 1763 as Indian Territory and off-limits to settlers, though some settlers remained in the area.
Carter served as chairman of the court when he joined earlier settlers in forming Watauga Association, and quickly became a prominent leader. Carter purchased about 640 acres of land in the “Watauga Old Fields”, an area that was cleared for agriculture by Indians long before settlers arrived.
From what it seems, the Carter mansion was finished in 1780, but sadly this means that John only got to live about a year in it after it was finished before passing from smallpox.
The Carter Mansion served its purpose though because of John’s son, Landon, who married his wife Elizabeth wed three years after John passed. Landon had battled along side his father, meaning he would’ve been about 16 in one of his first battles at King’s Mountain. The Carter Mansion is an absolutely stunning house to take in. It speaks a thousand words without a tour or guide. You can just feel how much of a home it was by standing outside and looking in. When you walk in you are immediately in the grand room, which was also the dining room. The architecture on the inside is amazing, and hand built. That’s right — hand built.
Back then people lived miles apart, and the chance of someone being a designer was slim to none. People today think that people back then were humble, and didn’t like to brag, but that isn’t the case. People back in the late 1770s early 1800s may not have bragged with their mouth, but if they had high ceilings, decoration over the fireplace mantle, or a fire screen, they let it be known to visitors. In the mansion the first thing you may notice in the grand room is the well-decorated fireplace mantle, and a shelf with porcelain.
To the left when you walk in is the parlor. The parlor was usually for the women, and they had some type of tea cabinet. Carter’s wife was one for hospitality. She would leave her tea cabinet open to guests, and this was strange due to people stealing things. They wouldn’t steal what you would expect though. No, not the silver teakettle, or the porcelain, but the sugar. People would steal sugar due to its high price because they themselves couldn’t afford it.
Off to the side of the parlor was John’s office, where over the fireplace is a painting that is supposedly done by one of his daughters. The painting had been covered up by layers of wallpaper, and was surprisingly preserved. The really cool thing is that over 90 percent of the house is the original materials.
Upstairs there isn’t much, just a children’s room that has housed at least seven children at once. The bed was rather small, and had an array of toys dispersed across it such as yarn dolls, the ball and cup, ribbon, the wheel and the stick, and some alphabet cards.
We moved to the master bedroom, and to my surprise there were two beds in there. One was the wife’s and it was decorated like a canopy bed except the end, so she could get to the baby cradle. The other is the husband’s, but he would only use that if he had to get up really early, or came in late at night. “It was to keep from waking his wife up and making her mad,” quoted one of the Rangers, Steven.
The house was a fantastic adventure, and I want to go back to ask more questions. I recommend checking it out when you can because its educational and fun.

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