James White's Fort (36)


205 East Hill Avenue

In 1786, during the era of the Articles of Confederation and of the abortive State of Franklin, North Carolina pioneer James White founded the settlement, first known as White’s Fort, or White’s Mill, which became the city of Knoxville in 1791. The term fort, when used in early Tennessee settlement, refers to a substantial dwelling that could be used to shelter settlers in the event of an attack.

A speculative re-creation of White’s original fort, which was about one-third mile northwest of this spot, the stockade includes much of what is believed to be James White’s original home: the cabin in the fort’s southwest corner. Although dated to 1786, when James White first built his two-story log house, the building at this location incorporates only parts (including steps, flooring, and rafters) of the original structure. In 1906, it was moved from its original location to Woodlawn Pike, so it would not be demolished. There, the cabin served as the main part of a suburban home for several decades before being moved to its current location in 1968 and reconstructed, replicating the original structure. Other structures in the stockade are original 18th or 19th century cabins from elsewhere in the area moved to or reconstructed on site to provide an accurate depiction of frontier Tennessee life. James White’s Fort was opened to the public in October 1970.

The settlement of Knoxville had its beginnings under the leadership of James White. He had fought in the American Revolutionary War and, as a result, was given a land grant of 1,000 acres for his services. In October 1791, White donated part of his land to establish the new town named Knoxville. Sixty-four lots were laid out in 16 blocks, each being one-half acre in size. The cost was $8.00 per lot, and a lottery drawing was held to assign the lots to individuals.

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