A visit to Cragfont is a step into the past combining cultural and architectural history. Started in 1798 and completed in 1802 by General James Winchester, Cragfont was the finest mansion house on the Tennessee frontier. The house typified the grandeur and style of the best of the late Georgian period homes. The General named his mansion "Cragfont" as it stood on a rocky bluff with a spring at its base.
General Winchester and his brother George, who was ambushed and scalped by the indians in 1794, came to the wilderness frontier in 1787. Construction on the mansion began in 1798, two years after the final indian battle was fought in the area. Until 1864, Cragfont was occupied by members of the Winchester Family. To the rear of the mansion is the Winchester family cemetery where the General and Mrs. Winchester and members of the family are buried
Built of gray rough finished Tennessee limestone, quarried on the place, and poplar, walnut, cherry and ash, hand hewn and cut from the surrounding virgin forest. Cragfont was in contrast to the typical log houses in the area.
Born in 1752 in Carroll County, Maryland, General Winchester, the son of an aristocratic family of English descent, brought stone masons, carpenters and joiners 600 miles through the wilderness from his native Maryland to
construct his mansion. An interesting architectural feature of this "T" shaped house is the seven iron stars used as anchor plates for iron rods
extending from the front to the rear to strengthen and tie the structure together. In the attic, the intricate king post truss systems was used, with the beams put together with wooden pegs. The truss construction is similar to an inverted boat and gives us a clue that the carpenters were familiar with ship building.
Other interesting features of this great house include the original stenciling on the parlor walls, the stippling on the parlor mantel and stair risers, the original wood work and flooring, the kitchen as an integral part of the house and second floor ballroom, the first in the Tennessee country.
The galleries on each side of the ballroom present beautiful views of the old garden, which has been restored and the magnificent rolling countryside.