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A Christmas Act of Love in Harriman, Tennessee

I’ve been wanting to go for years and finally did it this year…a visit to the Historic Cornstalk Heights Christmas Home Tour…Harriman, Tennessee


Christmas in Cornstalk Heights District

A bit of history first…

I am soooo guilty. Guilty of traveling far and wide and not seeing what there is to see right in my own back yard and the surrounding area.

I’ve lived in Crossville/Fairfield Glade Tennessee for 17 years. Up until about 5 years ago the only reason we usually ventured off to Harriman – 30 miles from home – was to stock our liquor cabinets as Crossville and Cumberland County were DRY. I did not know this when signing my name on the dotted line at the closing for our home. Didn’t find out until we were moved in. It was too late to turn around – I digress…that’s another story in itself and why I blog…

Anyhow – it seems kind of funny to me that Harriman was the closest place to buy our booze – wine or liquor…

You see – according to a pamphlet I picked up while attending their annual Christmas Tour – way back in 1891 or so – the citizens of Harriman were a bit pickey on what folks could and could not do with their property. Written into each and every residential deed was the Land Company’s stipulation forbidding “the use of the property, or any building thereon, for the purpose of making, storing or selling intoxicating beverages.”

Ironic! If you would like to know more – I suggest visiting your local library or used book store like The Book Cellar here in Crossville. Several publications the likes of The Town That Temperance Built may also be found on Amazon.com

Oh! And by the way – the penalty for breaking this rule would result in the property being returned to the East Tennessee Land Company…

Are you still with me? Good! Now let’s take a look at some of the homes on the tour as presented by the Cornstalk Heights Historical Community Organization.

Please keep in mind the effort the homeowners take to prepare their homes for your visit.  Each home is beautiful and unique and reflective of the family that lives there – no two are alike which you are about to see…

The Rockwell-Lane house located at 414 Walden Street in Cornstalk Heights has only had four owners in its 115 year history.  Sunday, December 15, 2013 – the day of my visit – was an overcast day. Outside photo shots on a mid-December day in Tennessee are not the greatest. Wait ’till you see inside…

Rockwell-Lane House

Please follow me…

Lane House Sitting Room

See what I mean! This room is absolutely beautiful…you just want to sit and sip while taking it all in…

Moving right along, we walk a block or two to 514 Cumberland Street – the Cassell/D’Alessandro home Circa 1905 and lovingly referred to as “Monte Vista.” You’ll see why in a minute…first a blurb from the description given by the organization:

Built in 1905 as a country estate by Judge Robert and Perle Cassell, “Monte Vista” was designed as the epitome of a gracious Colonial Revival Home. Many elements of the grand country lifestyle are still found here.

This year – 2013 –  marked the complete restoration of the kitchen and back porch. In keeping with the age of the house, it was designed to replicate what it would perhaps have looked like in 1905.

 Cassell-D'Alessandro House


Inside just as beautiful as outside…

 D'Alessandro Inside Home Collage

Love those little folding screens they came up with to stop folks from walking into the bedrooms…look but don’t touch!

The two top photos were taken in the “ladies’ parlor” and Santa may be found in the “men’s” parlor across the hall.

On to the Bender/Ireland House – Circa 1891 – located at 515 Clinton Street and a favorite of everyone on the tour. Do you think having access to a rest room and refreshments has something to do with its popularity?

I don’t know what I was thinking  – or better yet – not thinking  – when I entered this wonderful home. I just forgot to take photos of the inside! Guess I had other things on my mind…

The gals who own the home and are responsible for so much of its restoration were busy in the kitchen preparing hot apple cider; coffee; hot chocolate; and tea (hot or cold) to go along with all the “goodies” available for our “eating pleasure”…cookies galore; home made cakes;  beautiful little tea sandwiches; as well as hot and cold dips – my favorite – artichoke.  It was nice to give my feet a break for a minute or two and visit a while. Talking to people you meet along the way on a tour is half the fun in my book…love learning where they’re from and seeing them enjoy the show!

Next year I promise to take pics of all that fabulous food – in the meantime, here is a photo of the outside of the house still standing since 1907 – the year it was built…

First the sign all dressed up in holiday attire…

Bender-Ireland House Sign

Now the “Hospitality House” better known as the Bender-Ireland House…

Bender-Ireland House Circia 1891

 If I remember correctly – many moons ago when I was sitting in English Lit – you are supposed to end a story with something from the beginning to tie it altogether…Well – I stared with a photo of the Givan-Goldston House – Circa 1890 at 331 Morgan Street – only because I wanted you to see the striking Historic Harriman banner hanging from their front porch.

Now for the rest of the story…

Givan-Goldston…This wonderful Victorian “stick style” home, with its unusual roof, was built in 1890. It was owned by a prominent physician and surgeon, Dr. George C.G. Givan. Dr. Givan and his wife, Mattie, lived in this home for many years.

In 2003, Larry Goldston, proprietor of Out of the Past Antiques in Harriman, Tennessee, purchased the house and has put it through extensive restorations.  Exquisite furnishings, original built cabinets, woodwork and stain glass windows catch your breath as you meander through the various rooms. Not to be missed – painted murals which dance across the master bedroom’s ceilings and walls transporting you to another place.

Givan-Goldstone House Collage

I’m not about to tell you more…doing so will spoil your fun when you travel to Harriman next year to see for yourself. The homes are not usually repeated from year to year. Homeowners take turns. That’s what keeps you coming back for more.

The annual Christmas Home Tour of Historic Harriman is in its 23rd year. Cost this year was $15 per person. The proceeds go toward neighborhood improvements within the Cornstalk Heights community. Hope to see you in December 2014 at the Bender-Ireland House and share some “hospitality!”

 Street Sign in Harriman, Tennessee

Always have to have my street signs if at all possible…any you would like to share with us? Love seeing them!

That’s all folks! Thanks for your time…

See you ’round the next bend in the road – Have a great day wherever you are.

to be continued…

elaine j

Want to know more about Cornstalk Heights Historical Community Organization? You’re closer than you think...a simple click will do the trick!


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2 comments… add one
  • Laurie Davis August 29, 2014, 3:06 pm

    Hi Elaine! I just found your blog by searching for events in Harriman. My husband and I are moving to Tennessee next month and I found a house in Harriman that I love and now I see there’s a Christmas house tour. Hope to check it out this year. Thanks for the great blog post with such pretty pictures and the knowledge that I can buy booze in my new hometown, cuz that’s important to this porch sitting Moscato sipping gal!! 🙂

    • Elaine Johnston August 29, 2014, 5:35 pm

      Hi Laurie! Thanks for the kind words…Happy to hear you’re coming our way. Where are you moving from? Harriman is a neat town and I really did not get to know it as I do now until I attended the Christmas Home Tour…the homes are soooo beautiful! They also have a Halloween Tour of sorts. Not familiar with it but hope to get there. Yes – you will be able to buy your booze locally! Keep in touch. Might just be able to get together for a toddy or two…take care and lots of luck on your move. Have a Happy Day wherever you are! elaine j

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