Picture of the day - October 6, 2005
The Alexander Breckenridge Log House
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
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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