Back in 1905 Mr. LOUIS E. BRYANT, a mining engineer just returned from schools in France and Germany, came to Scott County from Chicago at the request of his father who was a large landowner in Tennessee and Kentucky.
He and his bride-to-be, a Miss VIRGINIA LEE, of Danville, Kentucky, came to Scott County to locate a building site for their future home. Mr. BRYANT wanted it to be near a base of operation for a mining enterprise he was to develop and operate. They settled on a site in an area now known as Bear Creek.
The camp established soon afterwards embraced more than a hundred buildings. There was a church, a school, a post office, three boarding places and many, many camp houses. The resulting settlement was given the name Roberta, in honor of Mr. BRYANT’s mother. This settlement became the second largest community in Scott County, next to Oneida. The main house was of Mr. BRYANT’s own design and was of the English Manor type. The designing came easily as he had observed many such homes on his trips to England during his tour of studies abroad. His only error in design in his original plan was influenced by the fact that houses in England rarely had closets. His bride-to-be, however, quickly corrected that oversight as nice cedar-lined closets now separate adjoining bedrooms.
AN HISTORIC HOME — The Bryant House, named for Louis F. Bryant, is located in Bear Creek just northwest of Oneida in a secluded area formerly known as Roberta. Now occupied by Robert and Norma Mabe, the aging English manor style home is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the only residence in Scott County to have that distinction
The house is of framed construction, and contained in its original form, more rooms plus a pantry, a storeroom and a bath. All the lumber used in its construction was cut on the site. It is said that some of the hemlock trees were seventy-five feet to the first limb.
The living room is twenty-four feet by twenty-eight feet with a sixteen-foot ceiling. This made it necessary to have a balcony across the back of the room to reach the two upstairs bedrooms, which are each fourteen-feet by twenty-eight feet in size. The living room and all four bedrooms downstairs have hand-hewn hemlock beams in their ceilings.
In the living room there is a large fireplace made of locally-manufactured paving bricks, its trimmings and mantle piece are of chestnut. The room also has bookcases lining both side walls and has four hanging copper lamps made in the mine machine shop. They are of Mr. BRYANT’s own design. The walls in the living room have six-foot hemlock wainscotings and the dining room has a domed ceiling and built-in China closets in two corners. Two large French doors open out into the family room.
The house was originally lathe and plaster but in the restoration they had to be removed and replaced by drywall. All electrical work and plumbing had be redone.
The outside of the house was boxed vertically with twelve wide, rough hemlock boards, sixteen-feet in length and battened over joints. The battens have been removed except in the gabled ends and the boards covered with asbestos-type shingles. The house was originally heated by steam from the mine power plant as well as doing the needed work. Most, but not all, of the work they did themselves. They had help with some of the heavier work.
As a point of possible interest the Lockin’s were married in the house in 1920. Mrs. LOCKIN, MARY STRUNK as she was known then, was making her home with the BRYANTs when she was not away at school. The home served as Mrs. LOCKIN’s Weaving Studio while they lived there.
Of the original camp buildings only two, other than the Bryant house, still exist —the cook’s house and the laundry house. It might be of interest to know that the first bathtub brought into Scott County was put in the Bryant home.
FNB Chronicle, Vol. 1, No. 2 – Winter 1990
First National Bank
P.O. Box 4699
Oneida, TN 37841
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