Sparta Rock House Shrine
This squat, sturdy building was built during the 1830s and served as a toll house and stage coach inn for those travelling the rugged Wilderness Trail which ran from Nashville to Washington DC and beyond. It is believed to have been built by Barlow and Madison Fiske and it has been cared for by the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution since 1941. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. It is now open for tours, but please call ahead to confirm hours of operation.
Backstory and Context
The Rock House’s greatest claim to fame are the famous political figures who have graced it with their presence. Presidents Andrew Jackson and James Polk stayed at the house as they travelled back and forth to Washington and Governors Sam Houston and Frank Clement also dined and rested within its confines. Built of local Tennessee sandstone, the single story structure originally had a partition that divided it in two, that has since been removed, has large fireplaces at either end and visitor’s who wished some sleep after a hearty meal could retire to the straw-lined loft area.
Post Civil War, the house served as a train station for a line that is now the current location of highway 70. It then continued to serve the needs of local residents as a school at various times from 1880-1920s. In 1941, the state purchased the house and seven acre site and, the same year, appointed the local chapter of the DAR as custodians. They were largely responsible for renovating the Rock House and opening it to the public and it still serves as their meeting place.
A rear section, made of the same sandstone, was added to the house sometime during the mid-20th century with modern conveniences, such as indoor plumbing. The doors, window frames, ceiling, floor and mantels are all original to the house. Historic photos now line the walls and period furniture adornes the interior.