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Gaines/Anderson House gets new home at Exchange Place

April 28th, 2014 5:38 pm by Leigh Ann Laube

Gaines/Anderson House gets new home at Exchange Place

The Gaines/Anderson House is actually two log cabins that are being dismantled and moved to the Exchange Place Living History Farm to be rebuilt and used as a museum. Photo by Leigh Ann Laube.

Ambrose Gaines, a Revolutionary War veteran, bought 273 acres of property in the late 1700s along present-day Stone Drive in Sullivan County. On a portion of that property, he built a log house for his wife Mary and their growing family.

Eventually, a second log cabin was built on the property, likely by Gaines, and for years those cabins sat side-by-side, covered with clapboard and appearing as one large structure. It's been a mostly unremarkable sight to motorists traveling between Bristol and Kingsport.

Today, that large structure — called the Gaines/Anderson House — is being carefully taken apart. The original logs are being salvaged and will be moved to the Exchange Place Living History Farm in Kingsport, where the two log cabins will be reconstructed and turned into a museum.

"We think [Ambrose] built the log structure, probably in 1797, best guess. We assume he had both cabins built and at some point they were put together. At this point in time, we have to assume a lot," said Charles Newland, a Gaines descendent. "It appears one cabin was moved to sit next to the other. One cabin has weatherboard, so we assume they were separate cabins."

Newland doesn't know who moved the cabins together or who built the large front porch that protected the front doors of both cabins. There was no way to move from one cabin to the other without going outside. Ownership of the cabins, he said, went from Ambrose Gaines to Samuel D. Gaines, to John Reuben Anderson, then to Katherine Anderson Boyd. Bruce Anderson and Laura Akard Anderson lived in the home before it had to be moved back to make way for the construction of Stone Drive in the 1950s.

"Someone added two bedrooms upstairs, a dining room and kitchen, and a long porch along the back. The back porch was two levels. We would assume that the Anderson family did that when they got it," Newland said.

Newland, whose family tree includes both Gaines and Andersons, remembers being in the cabins as a youngster and recalls the old parlor and grandfather clock.

When Katherine Anderson Boyd inherited the property in the mid- to late-1980s, Newland said, she deeded it to Bancroft Bible Camp, a part of Bancroft Gospel Ministry. Bancroft has had it for about 25 years now, and for 22 of those years, Bancroft staff lived in the two-story cabins. Because the cabins haven't been occupied in three years, and because the property isn't rentable, the Bancroft board of directors voted to sell the property. It's been on the market for a year or more.

"No one is really interested, and we were told the property might sell better without the home on it," said Newland, who's on the Bancroft board. "Because of the Gaines connection to Exchange Place, we did ask them if they would like to have the log part. Their board voted to accept and they bear the expense of dismantling it and moving it."

Originally part of a 3,000-acre land grant given to Edmund Pendleton in 1756, Exchange Place remained wilderness until John S. Gaines and his wife Letitia received 160 acres as bounty for his service in the War of 1812. John S. Gaines and his family lived at Exchange Place from 1816 until 1845. John M. Preston acquired the property from John S. Gaines. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ambrose Gaines was the uncle of John S. Gaines. Newland's grandfather, W.H.H. Gaines, was the 11th child of John S. Gaines and Letitia Moore Gaines.

Once the cabins are dismantled and the property cleared, Bancroft will attempt to sell the roughly 1 1/2 acres, Newland said.

Mike Faust and his crew have been working weekends to dismantle the buildings, determine what is original and what will be moved to Exchange Place. Other than the logs, the wood floor joists are original, as is some of the flooring. The roof isn't original, nor are the windows, inside steps and doors.

"Once everything is stripped and the batten is gone, the logs will come apart easily," Faust said, adding that he will use a forklift to separate the logs and can have them dismantled in two or three days.

Before the logs are removed, Faust and others will sketch the structures as well as mark each log so they can be rebuilt exactly at Exchange Place.

Mark Selby, president of the Netherland Inn/Exchange Place Association, said the cabins will be relocated to the Roseland side of the 62-acre Exchange Place grounds and will be called the Burow Museum in honor and recognition of 30 years of volunteer work at the site by Suzanne Burow and her husband, the late Dick Burow. The museum will house household artifacts like looms and spinning wheels. There may also be classroom space and perhaps a welcome center.

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