By Connie Denney
It was a fine May morning when I toured Cherokee Creek Farm and heard about work being done to preserve this historic property, now an event venue. Angie Lemon pointed out that exterior walls of the house were built from bricks fired on site and are four bricks thick. Across the road stands a brick spring house. Remains of a post office and general store and a gristmill are still visible along Taylor Bridge Road in Washington County. A Tennessee Historical Commission marker stands near the intersection of State Route 81 and Taylor Bridge Road and may be seen just after crossing Taylor Bridge spanning the Nolichucky River, as one travels from Erwin toward Jonesborough.
The old oak tree beneath which Jacob Brown negotiated with Cherokee Indians in the 1700s was felled by a strong wind in 1958, according to Viola Ruth Ervin Swingle’s book titled ERVIN, which includes a photograph of the house, built by Byrd Brown, Jacob’s grandson. Mrs. Swingle documented the story of the house and its purchase by her father, David J. N. Ervin in 1908. She, also, tells the story of her father’s donating land for a town, which was later named Ervin in his honor. According to the story, the town’s first postmaster was an Erwin and somehow the “W” took the place of the “V” in the name.
As Angie, whose maiden name is Castle, led me about the property, I learned that she and husband Don Lemon also have Erwin roots, although they now live in neighboring Washington County. And, no, she had not done anything like this before. She is a pharmacist who works from home as a medical science liaison for Genentech. Don does IT work for Brown Edwards, an accounting firm, in Bristol.
The house had been vacant for 20 years when they bought the 23-acre property from heirs in April 2018. She tells of reaching out to others to learn about historic preservation, craftsmen to do restoration work and about this house, in particular. The results are impressive. There’s more to come.
In addition to attention to the house with its nine fireplaces and both summer and winter kitchens, much work has been done on the grounds to provide usable spaces including a dance floor. A lovely fountain still bubbled and floated white blooms, which I supposed were left from the 200-person wedding event a few days earlier. A major addition underway is the 7,000-square-foot Creekside Barn to accommodate large parties. Among other offerings, it is to include a commercial kitchen.
Although the venue is a work in progress, Angie has bookings and is making them into 2020. She says the goal is what she terms “The Estate Collection,” which is set out in a slick four-color promotional piece. “Our Farmhouse was constructed in 1840 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It provides deluxe, boutique style overnight accommodations for your event. With six different ceremony locations to consider, let the team at Cherokee Creek Farm help make your special day unforgettable!” It suggests one-day, weekend, Farmhouse and/or Creekside Barn, or all- inclusive options.
Although, its use has changed, the fact that this property is being appreciated and preserved allows it to be enjoyed—not only by those using it as an event venue—but by all who take pleasure in knowing it’s place in history is marked, perpetuated.