Public hours :
Spring to Christmas
4812 Orebank Road Kingsport TN 423-288-6071
So you want to be a self-sufficient farmer in 1850?
What buildings do you need?
How are the buildings at Exchange Place used?
The Preston House : The School House : Cooks Cabin : Blacksmith Forge : The Gaine's Store :
The Log Barn : The Granary : The Woodshed :
The Kitchen : The Privy
The Burow Museum : Roseland Home :
The Quilt Barn : The Gift Shop
A few building details :)
*denotes structure original to the site in the mid-nineteenth century
On the “Farmstead” side of the road:
The Main House * - The Preston House - a place to eat, sleep, birth babies, hold wakes, entertain guests, have spinning and quilting bees, host husking frolics - to name a few activities. The log house is an unusual “saddlebag style” with a central chimney. What represents the horse and the saddlebags? Come visit and find out :)
It is not known when this log house was built, or by whom, but by the 1820’s, John Gaines and his family were living here—and later, from about 1850 to the end of the Civil War, it was home to the James Preston family. The house is constructed in the “saddlebag” style of two one-and-a-half story cribs connected by a central chimney and contained under one roof. It consists of four rooms, the two upstairs rooms being only accessible by an exterior staircase (originally only by a ladder). The east (right) downstairs room, known as the “Gathering Room,” served as living room, dining room, office, master bedroom, and hub of general activity for the Gaines and Preston families. The west (left) downstairs room was most commonly used as a guest room. Margaret Preston’s memoirs indicate that her mother nursed wounded officers in this room during the Civil War (while wounded enlisted men were housed in the schoolroom.) The upstairs rooms served as children’s bedrooms. Around 1900, a major “remodeling” was done to the Main House in which it was made a full two stories and covered in white clapboard. Also at this time, a two-story ell addition was added to the back of the house. This portion was moved intact across the street in the 1980’s and now serves as the Caretaker’s House.
The School House * - Education was of prime importance to the Prestons so Miss Fanny Lynn was hired to instruct the children. Why could the children not go to school in Kingsport 12 miles away and be home at night? Come and find out :)
The Springhouse * - a source of water is essential to life - The house was built near a bold spring. The raceway where crocks of milk and cream are cooled is part of the dairy. Isn’t where you milk the cows, the "dairy”? Not in 1850. Visit to learn more :)
The bold, ever-flowing spring is likely what determined the location of the farmstead, as settlers needed a clean and close source of water for survival. The spring at Exchange Place bubbles out of a natural limestone formation into a hand-hewn stone “box,” where it then flows into a stone sluice and into the creek beyond. Surrounding the sluice are large slabs of limestone on which crocks of fresh milk and other perishables were stored before the era of modern refrigeration. Slats in the walls provide good ventilation. According to family memory, John Gaines built the structure above the spring to use for Sunday singing in the 1830’s. Later, the Preston family used the room for the private education of their children. A local woman, Miss Fanny Lynn, was hired as teacher and governess and to assist the family with spinning and weaving. Margaret Preston, one of James and Catherine Preston’s children, recalls the schoolroom being used for the care of wounded enlisted men during the Civil War. The building has been restored to its mid-nineteenth century appearance. With its bright blue and red paint and fancy dentil molding, it is one of the most unique structures at Exchange Place. (Evidence of the original red milk paint can still be seen on the wall beside the door leading to the sluice.)
The Smokehouse * - Meats were salted and smoked here. Is that salt trough really one big poplar tree? Mr. Preston salted over 4,000 pounds of pork in December 1850. Why did he pick the month of December for this activity? How many people had to be fed? Visit to learn more :)
The Smokehouse* - In this humble log building, meat from hogs raised on the farm was cured and smoked. Having first been divided into shoulders, hams, bacon, sides, and jowls, the meat was salted in the huge wooden trough hewn from a single poplar log. (According to his record book, James Preston salted over 4,000 pounds of pork in December 1850.) After several weeks of curing, these pieces were hung from the wooden pegs in the rafters. In the middle of the dirt floor, a fire made of green wood (preferably hickory) was built to flavor and further preserve the meat, which would be a staple food source for the farm community throughout the year. Smoke escaped through the gaps in the logs (which were not chinked like those of the Main House) and the holes in the front gable. Over time, the chemistry of salt and smoke has given the interior wood the texture of velvet.
The Kitchen - The smell of fresh-baked cornbread or the stew pot seasoned with lovage picked from the kitchen herb garden reveals the use of this structure. The food is prepared in the kitchen and brought to the house to be served. Yes, even if it is raining! Why is the kitchen separate from the Main House? Come see and find out :)
The kitchen is a reconstruction built on the foundation of the original log kitchen, which was likely razed when the circa 1900 addition was made to the Main House. Logs from two local cabins were used to build the current structure. A singular feature of this building is that it is separate from the Main House. Often called “summer kitchens,” these structures are icons of the antebellum Southern landscape. A common misconception is that they were separate from the Main House because of fire safety concerns, but in truth, they were separate because wealthy white families wished to keep the heat, noise, and smells of cooking—and the slave labor that performed this duty—away from their own activities. (Large plantations sometimes had basement or “winter” kitchens as well.) The Exchange Place kitchen has an expansive hearth and is equipped with period appropriate cooking utensils and furniture. The walls are whitewashed to provide sanitation and better lighting—a common practice in the mid-nineteenth century. The kitchen is a vibrant part of living history at Exchange Place where visitors can see, smell, hear—and sometimes taste and touch—food prepared over the open hearth without the aid of electricity or refrigeration. Here, they learn about early American foodways and the impact that geography, ethnicity, slavery, and socioeconomic status had on diets.
The Cook's Cabin - The slave cabin is where the cook and her family live. Mr. Preston keeps a record of the births of the children of his cook, Mariah. Who sleeps on the corn shuck mats in the loft of this cabin? Come visit and take a look :)
The Cook’s Cabin is a reconstruction on the original site of the log cabin that housed the plantation slave cook and her family in the antebellum period. When the Preston family donated Exchange Place to the Netherland Inn Association around 1970, the original Cook’s Cabin was in ruins. Archeological evidence suggests that it was likely the oldest structure on the property, possibly dating to the late 18th century. Early 20th century photographs indicate the presence of a large chimney with an exterior fireplace, which was most likely used for outdoor cooking, laundering, and other chores requiring a fire. This unique exterior fireplace has been rebuilt and is a favorite “conversation piece” at Exchange Place. The cabin used to reconstruct the Cook’s Cabin was originally located in Greene County and was dismantled and reassembled by volunteers at Exchange Place in the 1970’s. It has a dirt floor and is furnished sparingly and primitively. Several other structures like the Cook’s Cabin would have been on the farmstead to house slaves and tenants.
The Granary * - Each bin in this structure stores a different kind of ground grain; probably wheat and corn. Why does each bin have slats "to close the opening" rather than a door on hinges? What would happen if you open a door to a full bin of cornmeal? Visit the Granary to find out :)
The frame structure to the right of the Gaines Store is the granary that served as a warehouse for grains that were bought and traded at the store. Two divisions of the building held loose grain, while a third area was used to store bagged grain and for record keeping. Inventory marks are still visible beside words like “oats” and “corn” on the walls. Open slats around the top promote good air circulation—a necessity to prevent mold growth. The Granary is currently used as a storage building and is closed to the public.
The Gaines Store * - John S. Gaines and his family lived at Exchange Place from 1816 until 1845. He started a store and established the post office of Eden's Ridge in 1831. How many families did the law require a post office to serve in 1831? Did he make a lot of money on the exchange rate between Virginia and Tennessee currency? What items did he sell in his store? Did Mr. Preston continue to run the store and become the postmaster after he bought Exchange Place? I must know where to get the mail! Come on by and visit to learn all about it :)
In the 1830’s, John Gaines built this frame structure to use as a commercial store and post office on the Great Stage Road. (On one of the foundation stones is carved the initials “S.M.G.”—probably for Samuel Moore Gaines, one of John Gaines’s sons—and the date 1831. The stone, in the back, near the northeast corner, was placed so the writing is upside down.) The store has a root cellar underneath for storage and a main floor above that was reserved for sales activities. The store supplied many needs—from plows to medicines to imported foodstuffs such as tea, sugar, and spices. As a stagecoach stop, it also served as an information hub and a state currency exchange center. (At the time each state had its own currency.) Gaines likely operated under the basic barter system and accepted such items as wheat, corn, animal hides, homemade cloth, goose feathers, wool, “toe” (tow), linen, bacon, eggs, butter, and ginseng in trade for other merchandise. After acquiring the property in 1845, John Preston, and later his son James, operated the store for tenant farmers only. At that point, it was closed as a public commercial store.
The Blacksmith Forge - Mr. Gaines would not recognize this building in its present location. The original shop looked like this but stood about a half mile away. The blacksmith is essential for making and repairing many implements used on the farm. He also shoes the horses. Why does a blacksmith need a bellows? An anvil? Come see a real blacksmith in the blacksmith shop :)
This structure is a recreation of the original blacksmith forge that stood about a half mile away (on the present corner of Stagecoach Road and Brookridge Drive). Early plantations often had their own forges where blacksmiths would make items that were used all over the farm—nails, spikes, hooks, skillets, hinges, wagon wheels, and horse shoes. John Gaines no doubt also used the blacksmith shop to serve the needs of the stage relay station and the many horses and carriages that passed by on a daily basis.
The Woodshed - This shed is post and beam construction. There is not a nail in the framework; it is held together with pegs. It is convenient to the buildings that use the most wood in their fireplaces. What other activity is the woodshed most associated? Come see :)
This newly constructed shed is of post and beam construction and is held together exclusively with wooden pegs. It is convenient to the buildings that use the most wood in their fireplaces.
The Log Barn * - The barn is certainly the largest structure in the farm complex where most of the farm animals are housed, fed, and cared for. Barns are also used for the storage of hay and corn. Drying and rippling flax or flailing wheat and oats are other activities carried out in the shelter of the huge barn roof. Why is Mrs. Preston so protective of the flax crop? What is a flail? Do I need one? Visit today to learn :)
Records show that in 1850, James Preston paid two men $293.81 to build this barn, which consists of two double log cribs with a threshing floor between them. When the Preston family donated the property to the Netherland Inn Association around 1970, the barn was still standing but was in poor shape. In the early 2000’s, the barn was completely dismantled and reconstructed from mostly original logs. Now, it again functions as a shelter for animals, hay, tack, and agricultural implements, as well as a space for living history demonstrations like shingle and rail splitting.
The Privy - The privy, or outhouse, is a newly constructed example of an outdoor toilet. Privies were also often used as trashcans, and as such, they contain important archeological evidence—broken pieces of china, sherds of glass and crockery, etc—all bits of the material culture of the homestead.
On the “Roseland” side of the road:
Roseland- This large triple log pen structure originally stood on Shipp Street (near Eastman off of Wilcox Drive). It was home to the Bachman, Steadman, and Shipp families before it was donated to Exchange Place in the 1990’s and moved to its current location in three pieces. The oldest portion dates to the late 18th century and is a single pen cabin with a loft. Over time, the house was expanded to include four more rooms and a dog trot. In the Victorian era, it was covered with clapboard, and the porch with intricate gingerbread woodwork was added. At one time, the house was surrounded by rose gardens, which inspired the name “Roseland.” Currently, it serves as a community center for Exchange Place.
The Gift Shop: The gift shop is a cabin that has been constructed from logs from several historic structures. It is open during tours and special events.
The “’Quilt” Barn: This large barn, built around 1925, is of frame construction with pegged beams. It features a quilt square of the “Cross and Crown” pattern from a Preston family quilt.
The Burow Museum: The newly constructed Burow Museum will house Exchange Place artifacts and archives and serve as an educational center. The museum honors long-time volunteers Dick and Suzanne Burow, who spearheaded the purchasing of additional acreage and the designation of Exchange Place as a living history farm. Many of the logs used for the building came from the Gaines-Anderson House, originally located on Stone Drive in the Arcadia community. The oldest part of the house was built in 1796 by John Gaines’s uncle, Ambrose Gaines. It has been reconstructed in the “dog-trot” style with a breezeway between the two pens.
The Burow Museum
So much to see, So much to learn,
So much to enjoy. See You Soon :)
"Exchanges" still take place today at the Exchange Place. Instead of exchanging currency, crafts made by local artisans may be purchased.