ABN Member Spotlight: Historic Ramsey House
The Historic Ramsey House, a 501c(3) nonprofit organization, is a treasure of a bygone era that has been faithfully preserved for the remembrance of past generations and their service to the East Tennessee region. The Historic Ramsey House’s stated mission reflects this drive: The purpose and mission of the Historic Ramsey House is to preserve the structure of the home itself and the stories it commemorates, to interpret the culture and early lives of these Tennesseans and members of the Ramsey family, and to link the past to the future through preservation, education, and interpretation of the site and its stories.
Built in 1797 by Knoxville’s first architect, Thomas Hope, this Late Georgian-style historic home was the first stone home in Knox County, made of Tennessee pink marble and blue limestone. It was considered one of the finest of homes in all of Tennessee for many years. The home’s architecture and general structure is significant for its original interior, collection of late 18th century art and tapestry, and preservation of a history that may feel inaccessible to modern Tennesseans.
The home was built for Colonel Francis Alexander Ramsey and his wife, Peggy. Col. Ramsey was the Secretary of the Franklin Convention, a pioneer in the world of civic education, a founder and elder of Lebanon Presbyterian Church, and a founding trustee of Blount College (now known as the University of Tennessee). His family’s service extends even further, making them among the most impactful settlers in late 18th and early 19th century East Tennessee. Ramsey's children included first Knoxville mayor and Secretary of State William B. A. Ramsey and early Tennessee historian and businessman Dr. J. G. M. Ramsey, both of whom occupied the Ramsey House at various times.
Today, the Historic Ramsey House sits on 101.5 acres and includes a visitor center and gift shop located in a beautiful country setting only seven miles from downtown Knoxville. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (the federal government’s official list of buildings, objects, structures, districts, etc. that are considered worthy of preservation by fact of their historical significance). A working blacksmith shop is in the process of being built on the site.
One of the most striking aspects of Ramsey House is the genuine feeling of “stepping back in time” when you enter it. Whether it be the architecture and furniture of the home (some which is original to the home itself), the preserved kitchen attached to the home (which was a rarity even in its own time!), the artwork, or the true stories being told by entertaining and knowledgeable tour guides who dedicate their time and effort to preserving such a beautiful piece of East Tennessee history, the Ramsey House is worth a visit and worthy of our community’s support.
The Historic Ramsey House has the following events over the next few months for families interested in East Tennessee-themed history, music, and foods:
- Ongoing House Tours – Wednesday-Saturday, 10am-4pm
- Vintage Base Ball – Saturday, August 10, 11am, 1pm, and 3pm and Saturday, August 24, 11am and 1pm
- Ancient Sounds Celtic Music Festival – September 1, 2-8pm
- Annual Wreath-Making Workshop – Saturday, December 7, 12:30-3pm
- Holiday Candlelight Tour – Sunday, December 8, 6-8pm
Would you like to become a Friend of Historic Ramsey House or learn more about ways you can help preserve East Tennessee history? If so, you can contact the Historic Ramsey House through their Facebook page, website, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrew Swann is currently a student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he is studying Philosophy of Science and Religious Studies, with a minor in Economics, through the College of Arts and Sciences. Andrew has lived in East Tennessee his entire life and intends to stay in the mountains for as long as possible after graduation.