Hawthorn Hill: Vernacular Architecture in the Tennessee Backcountry

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White, Jessica Lauren
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Middle Tennessee State University
Hawthorn Hill, located in Sumner County, Tennessee, is a significant example of southern backcountry vernacular architecture. Built circa 1806 by John Bearden, an early settler in Castalian Springs, Tennessee, this two-story, brick Federal-style dwelling embodies many of the traditional building and construction methods seen throughout he Tennessee frontier. The significance of the home's material culture and design is not limited solely to the frontier era. In 1817, John Bearden sold the home and property to the Bate family. The house remained in the family for more than one hundred years. During that time the house underwent several changes and alterations.
Many view buildings, like Hawthorn Hill, as physical representations of culture; because of their endurance over time they serve as an effective means of understanding the lives of the people of the past. This study takes a vernacular architecture approach to Hawthorn Hill because it stands as an illustrative example of common architectural types of the Sumner County area. This close exploration of a two-story, brick hall-and-parlor plan dwelling in its geographic and thematic context uncovers important new evidence and perspective on backcountry life in Tennessee.
Architecture, Backcountry, Tennessee, Vernacular