Carter Mansion Celebration will feature live music, dance, traditional arts and crafts

Carter Mansion
By Rozella Hardin

   The Annual Carter Mansion Celebration will be held on Saturday, Aug. 9, at the Historic John and Landon Carter Mansion on Broad Street Extension.
   The events will kick off at 12 noon with a Salute to John Carter. Music and dancing will be featured during the afternoon with Cameo Rose, acapella singers, performing at 12:30 p.m.; Jon Shell, bagpiper, at 1 p.m.; the Dance Explosion Cloggers at 1:30 p.m.; E.C. Miller and Goldrush Review at 2:30 p.m.; the Trailblazer Cloggers at 4 p.m.; and Ted Olson, Singer of Folk Songs, at 4:30 p.m.
   Also featured will be traditional arts and crafts.
   The Carter Mansion, one of Elizabethton's and Carter County's best known tourist sites, was built between 1775 and 1780 on what is now the Broad Street Extension.
   Jennifer Bauer, naturalist at Sycamore Shoals State Historical Area and the Carter Mansion, in an article written this spring for "The Tennessee Conservationist," said, "Prior to the arrival of John Carter to this new frontier, the Native Americans first called these lands their home. Called the Watauga Old Fields, most of the lands that are now in the heart of Elizabethton and the surrounding communities were settled by Native American tribes and families. The 'old fields' encompassed a large area of land spanning from the mouth of Stoney Creek (three miles east of Carter House), down the river to the mouth of Buffalo Creek (approximately eight miles). Their clearing can be traced back to days before the Cherokee began hunting and living on these lands, for their history indicates that the area was already cleared when their people first arrived here."
   The Carter Mansion has earned many distinctions, which includes being the oldest frame house in the state of Tennessee, in addition to being the first with glass windows.
   "It is amazing to know that 90 percent of the interior of the home is authentic, giving us the opportunity to view an architectural style that is remarkable for the place and the era in which it was built. Many rooms boast denticular molding, flured pilasters, chair railing, raised wall panels, and crown molding. Two of the downstairs fireplaces have elaborately detailed hand-carved mantles. The mantle in the Great Hall is similar to one that could have been in Tidewater, Va., prior to 1765," Bauer writes.
   Of particular interest in the house are two "native" paintings over the fireplace in the downstairs study and the upstairs master bedroom. These early paintings, executed by an amateur artist, are considered the oldest in the state, and are painted directly onto the wall panel, rather than framed on canvas.
   John Carter, the builder of the house, was a man who is remembered for making a difference in the military, business and political growth of this region and the nation. When the Watauga Association was formed in 1772, he acted as chairman of the court. He served as a commander at Fort Watauga and was a representative to the North Carolina General Assembly during the Revolutionary War. Acting as entry taker for the Watauga Settlement, he entered his ownership of a 640-acre land warrant for the tract of land upon which the Carter Mansion still stands.
   Upon his death in 1781, his son, Landon Carter, inherited the home and Carter's wealth. Following in his father's footsteps, he made his mark also on the political, military and business fronts. He was a lieutenant during the march to Kings Mountain by the Overmountain Men. Locally, he built the first iron forge in Carter County, in addition to two or more water powered mills. Carter County was named for him, and the town of Elizabethton was named for his wife, Elizabeth.
   The property passed through many hands until family descendants sold it in 1973 to the state of Tennessee.
   Today, the Carter Mansion is a satellite of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area in Elizabethton and is open to the public by appointment from September through May. It is open daily from mid-May through August.