Picture of the day - October 6, 2005

The Alexander Breckenridge Log House

Log house that was built by Alexander Breckenridge.

Today's picture features the oldest building still standing on the headwaters of the Holston River - the log house built by Alexander Breckenridge in 1769. This style of construction is typical for the era in which it was built - the country was young and rapidly expanding westward, and the most readily available (and affordable) building materials were rough logs and stone.

In those days, when materials were needed for building a new structure, trees were cut down and hewn into shape by hand. The logs were then measured, cut, notched and carefully stacked on top of one another - much like a puzzle. The spaces between the logs were filled in with pine tar and/or mud.

Stones were gathered and used to build a fireplace and chimney. If the homeowner had enough time and/or money, the stones were usually cut into more or less uniform rectangles. Otherwise, they were used in their natural, irregular shapes.

Today, there are relatively few of these wonderful old log houses still around to serve as reminders of 18th century American life. Most of them are privately owned and in various stages of decay, but the Alexander Breckenridge log house was completely restored and moved to its present Abingdon, Virginia location behind the Washington County Public Library in 1985-86 by the Washington County Preservation Foundation.

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