A Story of Old Stone Homes in Tennessee


A Pennsylvanian by birth, I came to live in Eastern Tennessee in 2008. A job planted me there for about five years. Quite lovely country, I thought, but it’s a land of log cabins, not old stone homes. After exploring the countryside, I realized I was wrong.

Ramsey House was my first real experience with a stone home in a Southern state. Breathtaking, it reminded me of many federal-style homesteads I had toured back home. And rightly so. Its original owner, Pennsylvania-born and of Scots-Irish heritage, hired an English-born architect to design and build the house of locally sourced pink marble and grey limestone – most likely in keeping with manses in his home state. Everything I love about old stone homes – intricate interior woodwork, a big walk-in cooking hearth and cozy fireplaces and a grand winding staircase – you’ll find at Ramsey House. Even a ghost or two (wink)!

So I was sitting at my computer today, pondering what to write. And Tennessee, for some reason, popped to mind. I did a search and – boom – up popped two gorgeous old stone homes for sale. Minus some columns and an odd architectural detail or two, these homes would look right at home if nestled on a country back road in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Maryland.

Wills-Dickey Stone House, Kingsport, Tennessee
Two-foot-thick stone walls. Can you imagine? This graceful lady was built around 1790 by Jacob and Mary Wills in a portion of Tennessee that was once part of Virginia. A two-story limestone dwelling, this mansion sits on over an acre of riverfront property, boasts its own barn, a guest house and four fireplaces and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Inspiration for this home’s design? Jacob was born in Pennsylvania and no doubt learned the art of stone masontry in his home state.

The Peter Range Sr. House
Imagine living in a home built by a Revolutionary War soldier! Peter Range Sr., of German descent and born in New Jersey, moved to present-day Johnson City (lower Knob Creek), Tennessee, with his wife Elizabeth and first child in 1777. He built his first home, a two-story log home, in 1796. That primitive structure forms part of the full basement of the present-day, circa 1804  home, constructed of hand-cut blue limestone. It was built along with a grist mill (Twin Falls), which is now but a memory. The home, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, boasts four fireplaces, interior exposed-stone walls and original wide-planked wood flooring.

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