Sabine Hill to celebrate opening with special guided tours

Published 9:32 am Monday, October 30, 2017

After a long hard road to save and restore Sabine Hill the historic home will soon be opening its doors to the public as the newest satellite campus of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park.

Sabine Hill was built around 1818 by Mary “Polly” Patton Taylor, the widow of Brigadier General Nathaniel Taylor. The Taylors were prominent members of the community during their lives, not only due to their business ventures but due to their civic involvement as well. Nathaniel was appointed as a Justice of the Peace the community was still part of North Carolina, and he holds the distinction of being the first Sheriff of Carter County. Nathaniel became one of the wealthiest men in Carter County with business ventures that included the manufacture of bar iron, flour, and gunpowder. He also served in the military and was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in 1804 and commanded a regiment of Tennessee Troops. During the War of 1812, he and the East Tennessee Militia served under General Andrew Jackson in Mobile, Alabama.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The State of Tennessee purchased Sabine Hill in 2008 after it was saved from demolition by a pair of community leaders who used their personal funds to buy the property in an eleventh-hour bid to preserve the home. But it was not until the 2012-13 budget year that Tennessee allocated funding to begin the difficult task of restoring to home to its long-lost splendor.

The restoration project proceeded with the goal of maintaining historical integrity and staying as close to the original design of the house as possible.

“It was the intent of all involved in this process that this should be a model historic preservation project,” said Jennifer Bauer, Park Manager of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park. “Extensive research and a high-quality restoration of the property and home were paramount in the process of bringing the Taylor home back to life.”

Among the experts brought in to study the house in order to prepare it for restoration were Matthew Mosca, a historic paint and finishes specialist, and Dr. Henri Grissimo-Mayer, a professor at the University of Tennessee with the Laboratory of Tree Ring Science.

Mosca took samples from the walls, door frames, ceilings, and other wooden finishes in the home to determine what paint pigments were originally used in the home. Once his analysis was complete, Mosca developed formulas to recreate those pigments so they could be used in the restoration of the home.

Grissimo-Mayer and students from his program at UT were able to take samples of the logs and beams that make up the structure of the house and use their analysis to determine when the logs for the home were cut. Prior to his research, there was no specific data as to when Sabine Hill was constructed.

Archaeological digs were also conducted around the site, but Bauer said little evidence from the early 19th century was recovered, primarily due to the extensive cultivation of the land over the years.

With the restoration on the home now complete, it is ready to open its doors and radiate with the life and stories of its earliest inhabitants, their children, and their descendants.

On Wednesday, Nov. 1, the park is hosting an invitation-only ribbon cutting for Sabine Hill State Historic Site. The home will open to the public for scheduled tours during the first two weekends of November.

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park will be conducting guided tours by reservation on November 4, 5, 11 and 12 and also hosting an entertaining celebration at Sycamore Shoals on Saturday evening, November 4th at 7:30 pm. The Saturday evening event will include historic dance demonstrations and guest participation, a glimpse into the history of Sabine Hill via clothing of the era, and fun for the whole family. This event is sponsored by the Sabine Hill Social Society and Friends of Sycamore Shoals.

Tours for these two weekends will be conducted at 9 am, 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm on Saturdays and 1 pm and 3 pm on Sundays and are by reservation only by logging onto and choosing “Upcoming Events” in the left hand menu. Tours meet at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park and will shuttle to the historic home. Additional opportunities to tour Sabine Hill will be announced at a later date.