Lairdland Farm House, located in beautiful Giles County, Tenn., is listed by the United States Department of the Interior on the National Register of Historic Places and is open for tours and special events.
John Laird, an Irish imigrant, was given a 5,000 acre land grant by the state of North Carolina in appreciation for Laird’s service in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Tennessee was still Indian Territory when Laird settled on Lynn Creek and raised his family. In 1857 John Laird’s youngest son, Robert H. Laird, purchased this property in the Brick Church community from Thomas J. Lane, his brother-in-law, who built the original home in 1831. From that time on it has been known as Lairdland.
Lairdland Farm House is built primarily of poplar wood. The poplar tree is the State Tree of Tennessee. Several of them exist on the property today.
Originally the house was Federal design consisting of a large hallway with two square rooms on each side, a kitchen and dining room in the basement and two upstairs bedrooms. The foundation, set approximately four feet into the ground, is brick, handmade on the premises.
The house contains seven fireplaces on the main floor.
Two front Bachelor Rooms, the large covered front porch with wheat sheaf railing and three pediment roof were added in the 1840s by George W. Tillery, a local craftsman who also did the woodwork for Giles County Courthouse built in 1857 and destroyed by fire.
The house is situated to take advantage of prevailing breezes and with twelve foot ceilings, wide hallways and front windows, also called jib windows, that can be raised to walk through, there is a constant cooling air flow through the home.
An interesting feature of the Bachelor Rooms is their wooden ceilings, still showing draw knife ridges where they were hand dressed. The Bachelor Rooms originally only opened to the covered porch. Interior doorways to the rest of the house were added to these two rooms in the 1970s.
All the interior doors leading off the main hallway are seven feet high and are hand hewn chamfered five panel poplar doors. They have large iron Carpenter locks which lock from inside the rooms. Carpenter locks were patented by the Carpenter Lock Company of England in 1820 and consist of the lock, the strike, a door knob, a key and a lever to engage/disengage the lock. The floors are hand hewn random width ash planks with the exception of the two Bachelor rooms and the upstairs bedrooms which are poplar.
Sometime before 1850 two wooden outbuildings were added to the front lawn. Their architecture is Victorian. These outbuildings were used as Travelers’ Rooms designed for the use of people traveling the roadways and needing lodging for the night. If a candle was lit in the window, the traveler knew the room was unoccupied and he could spend the night there. At daybreak the traveler would leave behind whatever gift he could in payment for the night’s lodging. One of the buildings was moved to the back of the house and made into a store room.
When the porches were added in the 1840s, this building was separated from the main house by a “dog trot.” Later part of this porch was enclosed and made into a breakfast room and kitchen. In the 1970s this building was raised, tied to the rest of the house and made into the kitchen. Large pierced tin poplar doors were removed from storage closets in the basement and made into the two matching corner cupboards in the present kitchen. The other outbuilding remains on the front lawn.
Another interesting architectural feature is the iron gas lamp hanging from the front porch ceiling. In the late 1800s the home was fitted with iron piping coming from a separate stone building behind the house (no longer existing). Each evening before sunset a servant would drop carbide pellets into a water vat. This generated carbide gas which was then piped to gas chandeliers and lamp fixtures throughout the house. When the carbide gas supply was exhausted, the family went to bed. While this particular fixture has been converted to electricity one can clearly see the original iron pipe work.
The original brick smoke house stands on the property and the original spring house is also standing on an adjacent property. Near the brick smoke house is a raised herb garden. many of the herbs raised here were used in the mid 1800s by housewives, doctors and hospital stewards for medicinal and cleansing purposes.
During the Civil War Captain James Knox Polk Blackburn of Terry Texas Rangers (8th Texas Cavalry) convalesced at Lairdland after being wounded supporting the Confederate cause in Middle Tennessee. After the war Blackburn returned to Lairdland and married the Laird daughter. This property remained in the Blackburn family until purchased by Bennita and Don Rouleau in 2002.
One of the travelers’ rooms now contains a private collection of Civil War weaponry and memorabilia in the Lairdland Civil War Museum. A collection of Victorian English Staffordshire figurines and transfer ware is displayed throughout the home, along with a collection of vintage dolls and toys. The home is furnished with American Empire and Victorian furniture.