Built in 1814, the Stonecipher-Kelly house is an important historic landmark of Morgan County. The house was one of the very first European homesteads in the area, and today it is the oldest standing home in Morgan County. Throughout it’s over two hundred year existence, this saddlebag plan log house provided refuge for two families, the Stoneciphers and the Kellys, who were linked by marriages. Dozens of Morgan County citizens can today trace their lineage to the house and its denizens.
The house was constructed by Ezra Stonecipher. Ezra was part of a pioneer family of German immigrants, who, in return for military service in the American Revolution, were granted this untamed section of the upper Cumberland Mountains. Along with the Revolutionary War, the house has ties to the War of 1812, the Civil War and World War I.
Geographically the house sat on a busy trading route, linking Nashville and Knoxville, because of this an extremely lucrative store and post office was established on the property. This made the residing family not only tremendously wealthy, but also a pillar for the local community.
The Stonecipher-Kelly House retains a high degree of all aspects of integrity. The house remains in a primarily rural, agricultural setting, unmoved from its original location. It reflects an evolution of design, from its original saddlebag layout, to the features added to the house in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A complex and skilled level of workmanship can be seen in the house’s log construction (which remains intact two centuries later), large stone chimneys, and original mantles. Benefitting from rural surroundings, original outbuildings, and relatively few modern intrusions, the Stonecipher-Kelly House is highly evocative of the early 1800s in Tennessee, and one of the few residences that can still be associated with this settlement period in the state’s history.
Many oral accounts of the house are in existence today, as well as artifacts, census records, and land grants. The house is currently owned by Frozen Head State Park and Natural Area. The park has plans to not only save this important house from neglect, but to refurbish it. Funds have been allocated to the houses restoration and the house is currently in the design phase of this process. The house will be used as a living historical site depicting the life of 19th century Cumberland Mountain homesteaders.
Due to the active restoration of the site, the house and grounds are not open to the public. Ranger-led tours are available on a near monthly basis. To find the next tour, visit the event calendar.