National Register of Historic Places – Smith-Sanders Farm

August 2, 2018, National Register of Historic Places

The ‘National Register’ is a phenomenal source of information regarding historic homes.  Search their database and you will find 49 properties as of August 2, 2018.

The following ‘Register’ entry is dated January 4, 1993:

The Smith Farm is located six miles southwest of Murfreesboro, the county seat for Rutherford County.  Rutherford County is located in a geographical area known as the Central Basin, in Middle Tennessee.  The Central Basin
is diverse in its topographic features allowing for cash crops and livestock.

The Smith Farm consists of a one story dwelling and sixteen outbuildings situated on 370 acres of land.  All buildings
are located down a half mile gravel drive that permits the farm to retain the same rural atmosphere it had in the early
twentieth century.  The main dwelling is a one story timber framed house, circa 1869, built by the original owner,
Robert Andrew Smith.  The vernacular Greek Revival influenced central hall plan house has a two room rear ell
with enclosed porch connecting to a circa 1979 kitchen.  The growth of the house with its additions represents the growth and development of the farm.

The interior of the main house retains many of its original features, doors, windows, mantels, flooring, and plaster.
The alterations made to the house came with growth and prosperity in the 1930s, and again in 1979.

The fourteen contributing outbuildings on the property represent the development of agriculture in Middle Tennessee
from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century.  The circa 1869 main house on the Smith Farm faces the east
overlooking one of the farm’s pastures.  The house has a stone foundation, which replaced stone piers in the 1930s;
the 1979 addition has a concrete foundation.  The house is sided with poplar weatherboard, and under the front porch
and rear enclosed porch is shiplap siding.  The roof is covered with asphalt shingles.

The east facade has three bays, with a centrally located circa 1930 twelve glass pane door, with eight glass pane
sidelights on each side.  A transon over the doorway has three glass pane center section, and two glass pane section
on each side.  The bays on both sides of the door are six over six double-hung sash windows with jib doors below.

Each jib door has a recessed panel with molding.  The pair of jib doors swing open into the house.  The windows have workable wood shutters the full-length of the bay.  The three bays are covered by a shed porch with protruding
central gable.  The gable has multi-layers of molding in the pediment.  Diamond-shaped decorations are applied within the pediment, created by molding.  The decorative cut rafters are exposed on the porch.  Ten square wooden columns support the porch roof.  All of the columns and pilasters have applied molding that gives the appearance of panels, and bases and capitals are also applied to each column.  Four wood columns front the gable section of the porch.  The remaining six columns support the shed porch section, with three on each side.  Pilasters are located at each end of the porch and on each side of the doorway.  The porch has a wood floor supported by stone foundation. The siding under the porch roof is poplar shiplap.  The ceiling of the porch is wood.  The section on each side of the porch is covered with poplar weatherboard siding with corner pilasters matching the columns.

The south elevation has a gable on its east end and an ell to the west of this gable.  The exterior brick chimney,
rebuilt in 1970, is centrally located on the gable end.  A four over four double-hung sash window is situated approximately one foot west of the chimney on the gable end, and appears to be have been added in circa 1900.  A belt course across the gable end creates a pediment effect; within this section there is a small ventilation outlet located approximately two feet west of the chimney.  A corner board divides the gable end from the ell showing signs that the ell was a later addition.  The ell has two six over six double-hung windows.  A corner board is located at the west end of the ell.  The ell has an interior brick chimney at the roof ridge line.

The rear elevation of the house faces the west.  The gable end of the’ell is located on the far south side of this
elevation.  The gable of the ell has a belt course creating a pediment effect with a ventilation outlet in gable.  An
original six over six double-hung window is centrally located in the section.  A shed is attached to the north
side of the ell.  This is separated from the ell by a corner board.  On the west end of the shed addition there is a
small six over six double-hung window that has the same base line as the gable end window. A circa 1970 screened porch is located to the north of the shed addition.  The asphalt shingle porch roof extends onto the roof of the shed
addition and the ell creating an odd-sided triangle between the porch and shed roof lines.  A small section of the
eastern end of the screened porch is covered with siding and has a four over four double-hung sash window.

The north elevation of the screened porch faces the 1979 kitchen and family room addition.  This addition has a
north/south gable with a slight overhang on the west elevation.  The family room is located on the north end of
this addition.  The west elevation of the family room has a pair of fifteen glass pane French doors which open onto a
wooden deck.  The north side of the family room has an extended bay window with five six over six double-hung
windows.  The bay window is topped by a multi-sided roof.

The east side of the family room has two six over six double-hung windows with nonworking shutters on each side.
The north elevation of the original house has a gable facing the north.  A belt course in the gable creates a pediment
appearance.  The central exterior brick chimney is flanked by six over six double-hung window oh each side.

The interior of the original house has a central hall plan with one room flanking each side of the hall.  The ceilings
are 12 feet in height in this section of the house.  The pine flooring in the original part of the house, and in the
ell, is original.  The wooden, four panel doors are also original in both the main part of the house and in the ell.
The yellow poplar woodwork around the doors and windows is flat with applied molding on the outer edge.  This technique was employed in both the front part of the house, as well as in the ell.  The door knob and locks on the doors were replaced in the 1930s when the house was updated, but they still retain their original hinges.  The front part and ell section of the house still retain all four matching wood Greek Revival influenced mantels.

The central hall has a door into each room with a transom above each; these doors are located across from one another and centrally located in the wall.  A door at the west end of the hall goes onto an enclosed porch.  The northeast room is the original dining room.  It has a window to the east with the jib doors, and two windows to the north on each side of the fireplace.  A wood, swinging door into the kitchen, in the west wall, was installed during the thirties when the kitchen was added, and retained during the 1979 alteration.

The south parlor of the central hall portion of the house has a east window with jib doors.  Another window on the
south wall, west of the fireplace, appears to have been added later due to its location and design.  The west wall
has a centrally located door that leads into an ell bedroom.

The bedroom in the ell is located just west of the southern parlor and has a fireplace on the west wall directly across
from the door which leads to the south parlor.  A door is on each side of the fireplace.  The door north of the mantel
goes into a closet, while the door on the south now goes into a half-bath.  The door on the north wall leads to the
enclosed porch; a six over six double-hung sash window that looks onto the enclosed porch is located to the west of this door.  A outside window is located on the south wall of this bedroom.  This bedroom is connected to the westernmost bedroom by the half-bath.

The westernmost bedroom has a fireplace on the east wall sharing the same chimney as the other bedroom.  The door to south of the fireplace leads to the half-bath while the door north of the mantle leads to the closet.  This room has two outside windows, one on south wall and the other on the west wall.  The north door from the bedroom to the enclosed porch butts up against a storage room door which is located just to the west.

The storage room appears to have been part of the porch at one time, but was enclosed during the 1930 remodeling of the house.  The storage room door does not have the same placement or level as the ell doors.  The ell can also be accessed by the western door in the central hall.  This door originally went onto an open porch that connected the main house with detached kitchen west of the main house.  The porch made a “U” shape by running along the west elevation of main house then down the north elevation of the ell where it turned and connected to the east elevation of detached kitchen.  The detached kitchen was torn down and the porch was enclosed during the remodeling of the 1930s.  The shiplap siding still remains on the walls of the porch.  The enclosed porch section is screened.  Between the enclosed porch and the screened porch there is a row of four windows that were added in the 1930s.

The pair of doors east of the windows are the original front doors which were replaced in the thirties.  These doors
enter into another enclosed porch that connects with the kitchen.  Two rooms, a pantry and a half-bath, are located
east of this second enclosed porch.  East of the pantry and half-bath is a hall.  The pantry and half-bath were part of
the 1930s kitchen that was replaced by the adjoining kitchen and family room in 1979.

The kitchen is located northwest of the dining room with the swinging door connecting them.  The kitchen and family room are open creating one large space.  The family room has a pair of French doors leading onto a wood deck.  There are numerous outbuildings on the Smith Farm.  These outbuildings and the main house are surrounded by a wood plank fence that dates to the turn of the century.  This fence defines the more domestic realm of the farmstead.  Within this area are trees, shrubs, and flower gardens.

While the east gate serves as the front entrance, with a stone walk leading to the front door of the dwelling, other
gates lead to different agricultural production areas of the farm.  The gate to the west leads to the garden and orchard.
The gate to the north leads to the original livestock feed lot and early farm buildings.  The south gate leads to the
tenant house and livestock barn.  A half dovetail notched log cabin (circa 1869) is located to the northwest of the main house.  This single-pen cabin is of red cedar resting on limestone rocks.  The large, limestone chimney is on the east gable end.  The central, wood, batten door faces the south with a four over four window, east of the door.  A north four over four window is centrally located in the wall.  Cement mortar was placed between the logs in the 1950s.  The roof is covered with asphalt shingles.  The interior of the cabin has a wooden floor and exposed hand hewn beam ceiling supporting a loft.  The cabin is currently being used as sleeping quarters.

South of the cabin is a garage constructed with red cedar post-in-the-ground with 45 degree brace work covered with
vertical plank wood siding, circa 1910.  The gable roof with shed extensions is covered with asphalt shingles.  The facade faces east and there is a pair of sliding wooden doors which still retain original hardware.

Southwest of garage is a red cedar, half dovetail notched smokehouse (circa 1869).  The wooden, ledge and braced door has hand forged hardware, and is centrally located on east gable end.  The longer log plates support an overhang
similar to the Appalachian building style.  Cement mortar was placed between the logs in the 1950s.  The gable has
wood weatherboard siding.  The roof is covered with asphalt shingles.  The cross beams in the interior of the building
have been floored to make a loft.  A ladder is located at the southeastern corner going to the loft.  Southeast of the smoke house is the wood weatherboard well house (circa 1930) with concrete foundation.  Two posts support the extended east gable.  A batten door on the east gable end is located to the south.  Four glass pane windows are located on the north and south sides, opposite of each other.  The roof is covered in new wood shingles.

Southwest of the well house is a grain and vegetable storage building (circa 1880).  The board and batten building faces east.  The tin roof overhangs east gable, but the west gable is flush with the building.  The small wooden door in the southeast corner of the building is of vertical boards and has a wooden covered lock.  The construction is post-in-the ground of red cedar with vertical oak planks applied with square nails.  The bottom level is about five feet in height, which was used for storage of vegetables.  The loft is accessible by a ladder in the northeast corner of the
building.  The loft was used for storage of grain.

Southwest of the storage building is a chicken coop, circa 1920.  The door faces the east on the vertical plank sided post-in-the-ground building.  The split level shed roof was created when a lower shed roof section was added in 1930s.  The addition was protection for the chickens.

Approximately 60 yards north of the main house is a complex of early farm buildings.  The mule barn (circa 1900) is the building farthest to the east.  The gable roof with shed extension, is tin.  The wood vertical plank sided barn has a triangular cut design for the central drive-through section, which was used when hay was stored in the loft.  The two extended shed sections have openings for machinery storage.  The building is constructed of red cedar post-in-the-ground.

The double-pen, saddle notched, drive-through, log corn crib (circa 1890) has gable facing the east and west of the mule barn.  The red cedar logs rest on limestone rocks.  The east pen has interior opening for retrieving grain, while the west pen has an exterior opening for retrieving grain.  The exterior gables are closed while the interior gables are
left open so the cribs could be filled with grain.  Tin nailed to small log rafters make up the roof.

The grain and storage barn (circa 1870) is west of the log crib completing the row of northern outbuildings.  The barn
is a gable building with a shed roof section around three quarters of the building on the east, north, and west.  Vertical plank boards are applied with square nails to the red cedar post-in-the-ground beams.  The plank barn encircles a saddle notch log barn of red cedar on limestone rocks.  The log barn has a loft with a southern opening for access. The bottom level of the log barn is about five feet in height, and the opening is also on the southern side, but off center from the above opening.  The south drive-through addition is used for storage, which connects with the
enclosed added shed section.  A tin roof covers the entire structure.

Approximately 200 yards to the south of the main house is another complex of buildings.  A four room tenant house (circa 1961), with a three bay front facade, has a concrete foundation, and wood weatherboard siding.  A small gable porch is supported by two post.  The building has exposed rafters, an interior chimney, and an asphalt shingle roof.

A storage building and workshop (1992), with a four bay on east facade is constructed of red cedar harvested from the 379 acre farm.  The building rests on concrete piers with board and batten siding.  A gable porch is supported by two posts.  The building has exposed rafters and an asphalt shingle roof.

A large livestock barn (circa 1910) has gable roof with shed extension covered in tin.  The red cedar post-in-ground
building is covered with vertical plank siding.  The large roof is self-supporting suitable for large amounts of loose
hay. The barn is still used as a livestock barn.

A concrete silo (circa 1930) is behind the large livestock barn.

A frame well house (circa 1920) with a tin roof is south of the livestock barn.  The small gable building incorporated
several methods of siding, vertical and horizontal plank.  The wood door is ledge and braced.  The well house is still
used to water livestock.

A two room board and batten tenant house (circa 1880) is located southwest of the well house.  The house rests on stone piers, and has a tin roof.  Full length shed porches are on the east and west sides of the house.  A door from
each room opens onto the porches.  The south end of the west shed porch was enclosed for a kitchen making it into a three room house.  The exterior stone chimney is centrally located on the south gable end.  A window opening is located east of the fireplace.  The north gable has a central window opening.  The two interior rooms have batten wood doors.  The interior is completely wood.  The walls are horizontal wood shiplap and the ceiling and floor are wooden.  The building is vacant.

A small saddle notch corn crib (circa 1900) is located southeast of the large barn.  It has an attached lean-to, and the entire building has a tin roof.  The crib is constructed of red cedar.

The Smith Farm, located on Armstrong Valley Road in Rutherford County, Tennessee, is eligible for the National
Register of Historic Places under criterion A for its significance in the agricultural settlement patterns of the
Reconstruction period in Rutherford County and for its significance as a representative example of the progressive
agriculture movement in Rutherford County during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.  The property gains further significance under criterion C, as a local example of a vernacular farm complex of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that includes a log double crib barn, log smokehouse, single-pen cabin, a early twentieth
century stockbarn, a central hall plan dwelling with a Greek Revival portico, and various other contributing outbuiIdings.

The criterion A eligibility of the Smith Farm is associated with its status as one of twenty-three “Century Farms” in
Rutherford County.  The “Century Farm” project, sponsored by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and directed by the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation, identified and collected information on farm families who had continuously owned and operated family farms for, at least, the last hundred years.

The Smith Farm is an especially significant Century Farm due to its date of establishment and to its later contributions to the progressive farming movement in Rutherford County in the early twentieth century.  The Smith Farm is a registered Tennessee Century Farm, founded in 1869.  This date of establishment is near the year of 1866, which is the mode average date for the founding of a Century Farm in Tennessee. Indeed, 15 percent of the state’s Century Farms were established during the Reconstruction period of 1865 to 1870 and the Smith Farm is an important Rutherford County example of this statewide pattern of settlement.

Moreover, the Smith Farm is associated with the post-Civil War interest in new livestock breeds, an important part of
the general progressive agricultural movement to increase the profitability and stability of southern farmers.  The
property, according to Carroll Van West’s Tennessee Agriculture: A Century Farms Perspective (1987), was “one of Rutherford County’s leaders in breeder livestock production.” (p. 206)  The evolution of the farm’s changing production from Shorthorn cattle and sheep to Hereford and dairy cattle is exhibited in the number of specialized farm outbuildings.

Colonel John Smith arrived in Rutherford County, Tennessee, in 1806, with his wife, Jane Carter Ferris.  He built his
home “Springfield” near a spring after the same name in 1814.  John Park Smith was born to this union on 3 January
1810. He married Elizabeth Kennon Sims on 29 April 1830.  Robert Andrew Smith was born to this union on 16 February 1846.

Robert Andrew Smith established the Smith Farm in 1869, and on 9 November 1869 he married Florence Elizabeth McLean, in the Salem’s Methodist Church. Robert Smith built a two room Greek Revival influenced central hall plan house for himself and his bride, either in 1869 or shortly thereafter.  The purchase of the property after the Civil War was possible due to the low land prices.  But to enable the farm to escape the general agricultural devastation caused by the war, the Smith family shifted production from a heavy reliance on grains and cotton to a more diversified output focused on livestock, which included shorthorn cattle, sheep, and hogs, and wheat.

The determination to meet the hard times with new methods in farming operation met with success.  As a reflection of this new prosperity, as well as the ever-growing family (the Smiths had their first child in 1870, and nine would soon follow), the Smiths made an ell addition to the original house in 1871.  The Smith farm modernized its production during the early twentieth century by relying on new technology.  The Smith family also adopted new theories in farming and livestock production.’  While housing for livestock was not a concern for Southern farmers in the nineteenth century because of mild weather, by the beginning of the twentieth century the University of Tennessee’s Agriculture Department released a report stating the importance of housing livestock to increase production.  The Smith family quickly followed the institution’s advice by building a modern barn in 1910. The
new barn design had a self-supporting roof, which allowed for greater amounts of loose hay to be stored without the
interference of supporting posts.  The hay trough could be filled from the loft above by means of openings down the
side of the barn.

In 1915, the Smith family replaced their Shorthorn breed with the greatly improved Hereford breed.  In the same year
they added alfalfa to their production for cattle feed.  Both were considered innovative in Rutherford County
agriculture.  The Smith family was so well noted in their production and being progressive farmers that the author of
the 1924 “Handbook of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County, Tennessee” noted:

Mr. Smith is another wide-awake farmer.  You will see from the picture above that he is a stock raiser and also does general farming.  This farm contains about 275 acres of very rich and fertile soil.  The principal crops grown on this farm are wheat, oats, red clover corn and cotton.  This place produces from 25 to 40 bales of cotton yearly, 5000 to 7,500 bushels of corn, and all other crops in proportion.

It has always been Mr. Smith’s custom to ship from one to two cars of fancy beef cattle every year.

Also, from 100 to 125 early lambs yearly.  The picture above shows only 64 head of ewes, with 84 lambs at their side.  He also had another herd of sheep grazing in another pasture at the time this
picture was made.

There are from 50 to 150 head of hogs sold off this farm annually.  This farm has had a reputation for years for producing high grade livestock.

The prosperity of the 1920s gave way to the Depression of 1930.  While many farmers went bankrupt, the Smith family advanced their annual income during these hard times by using the latest technological advancements in farming to produce higher yields.  The Smith family used the latest technological advancements by constructing a concrete silo with supporting steel bands, which was constructed next to their livestock barn in 1930.  The silo allowed for better storage of livestock feed, which was more economical because corn and the cornstalks are turned into silage that could be stored year around.  The better supply of feed increased production in their livestock.  This increase resulted in more available funds which allowed them to modernize their home. The mid 1930s remodeling of the house included a kitchen addition, electrification, and other improvements to the house.  The electrification of the house was made possible by the availability of electric power from TVA and the rural electrification program.  The Smith Farm became the Smith-Sanders Farm in 1966, when Inez Smith Sanders’ son, Robert Sanders, obtained ownership of the farm from his aunt, Missie McLean Smith.

Situated a half mile off Armstrong Valley Road the farm complex retains its rural atmosphere.  The original 370
acres remains much as it did in the early twentieth century.  The historic fence lines continue to be maintained with wood plank and wire fences replacing the snake rail.  The configuration and function of the ground these fences
enclosed still continue in operation today.  The development of the Smith Farm is documented in the farm layout and
buildings. The farm complex is entered by a half mile gravel drive that crosses Wet Weather Creek, and runs parallel with a historic fence line.  The drive enters the northeast side of the main house complex.  At this point there are several options for entering the farm: north to the nineteenth century livestock area; through the gates into the main house complex; or south to the twentieth century livestock area.  A wood plank fence encloses the main house complex which consists of six outbuildings, which are all located to the rear of the main house.  The main house faces an open field, and is surrounded by trees, shrubs, and flower gardens that are of the same type which have been there since early twentieth century.

The surrounding outbuildings represent their importance to the daily operation of the home.  The log cabin northwest of the house served as a weaving room during the early part of this century.  The garage south of the cabin housed the
vehicle, allowing easy accessibility to the family.  The log smoke house west of garage was used for the curing of meats.

The well house behind the main house provided the needed water for the home.  A board and batten building  southeast of the house served as storage for vegetables and grain.  A poultry house southwest of the board and batten building housed the chickens.  Orchard and vegetable gardens still exist behind these buildings.  The close proximity of these buildings to the main house relate their importance to the daily operations of the farm life. The addition of the garage to the complex in the twentieth century reflects how transportation greatly affected the farm family, and the evolution of the farm.

North of the main house is the nineteenth century farm complex.  The complex consists of a mule barn, a drive
through log corn crib, and an enclosed log barn.  The close proximity of these buildings to the main house allowed for easy access to the work animals and machinery.  The mule barn housed the work animals for the farm.  The Smith Farm used mules for the cultivation of fields, instead of horses.  This practice continued until the introduction of tractors to the area.  The Smith family had one of the first tractors in the region, in the early part of the century.  Mules continued to be used on hilly ground because they would not tip over like tractors.  Therefore, they remained important until the 1950s.  The log corn crib and barn were used for grain storage for livestock.

South of the main house complex is the twentieth century farm complex.  The large barn incorporated the latest
technology in livestock production.  The introduction of  this barn form made a major impact on modernizing the farm in the early twentieth century.  Animals that were housed produced higher yields.  Feed production was greatly
improved with the introduction of the concrete silo to the farm.  The silo allowed for better storage of livestock
feed, which was more economical because corn and the corn stalks are turned into silage that could be stored year
around.  The better supply of feed increased production in their livestock.

The Smith Farm is a significant Rutherford County example of an evolving farming operation in nineteenth and early
twentieth century agriculture.  The farm developed into a complex reflecting the determination and progressivism of a Middle Tennessee farmer who rose above the hard times by incorporating modern technology and ideas.

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