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Architectural Significance

Since its original construction, the Buchanan Log House has been continuously occupied as a family dwelling while retaining its original design. Each owner made a few upgrades, but none changed the basic structure of the Log House. Consequently is has retained its original form and charm. Despite being located off Elm Hill Pike in the Metropolitan Nashville International Airport's land acquisition area, the Buchanan Log House has withstood the passage of time and escalating commercial development in its immediate vicinity.

Situated on a small knoll approximately seven miles east of downtown Nashville and surrounded by chestnut rail fencing and large magnolia trees, the Buchanan Log House is architecturally significant as one of the oldest log houses in Middle Tennessee and one of the best examples of two-story log construction. Of historical significance, this Log House currently is the oldest log constructed house still standing in middle Tennessee that has been continuously occupied since its original construction back in 1807-1808.

A drawing of the James Buchanan Log House as it is todayTypical of construction techniques from the frontier period, the soundly built house displays a high level of craftsmanship and is in a very good state of preservation. The original two-story single log pen structure measured 26' x 18' and originally had a hall and parlor floor plan with two rooms downstairs and one room upstairs. Resting on a solid un-mortared limestone foundation, the half dovetail notched logs are chestnut, oak and yellow poplar. The presence of a full dovetail purlin in the roof system is a very unusual feature not typically found in Tennessee. All the windows have vertical board shutters on the façade. The interior of the original two-story log section has a 10' ceiling with exposed beaded poplar floor joists. The fireplace on the second floor has a unusual limestone arched lintel with an incised keystone. In 1820 the 16' x 18' addition created a double pen log saddle bag configuration type house. This one-and-one half story addition was an exterior gable end limestone chimney, and continues the half dove tail notching arrangement. Surviving examples of two-story log houses are rare in Middle Tennessee, and the Buchanan Log House may be the second oldest example of this house type in Davidson County next to Fredrick Stump House (National Register April 2, 1973) and is the oldest Log House in Middle Tennessee which has been continuously occupied since its construction.

Beginning about 1900, a number of "improvements" - including clapboard siding - were added to the Log House that modernized its appearance and amenities.

For many years, those passing by admired a lovely white house on a knoll, surrounded by lovely large trees-chestnut, oak, maple and magnolia. In 1978, however, new owners began a seven year renovation whereby the lovely home was restored, in most part, back to its original Log House appearance.

In summary, the significance of the house is partially because of its age. It's also significant because of its association with James Buchanan, an early Nashvillian who came with James Robertson to settle in Middle Tennessee. It is a very good example of a well-preserved log cabin. Throughout the years, it has retained its design of a two-story house with a one-and-one-half story single pen log addition and a one-story framed board and batten rear shed addition.

The Buchanan Log House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Floor layout of the Buchanan Log House may be reviewed by clicking here.

Excerpted from The Buchanan Banner, Fall 2007.  Much of the architectural material used in this article was adapted from “The National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form for the James Buchanan Log House,” researched and prepared by Stephen T. Rogers, Cultural Resources Surveyor of the Tennessee Historical Commission in October 1983.


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