(EDITOR’S NOTE — The following article on The Bryant House was written by the late Scott County Historian Esther Sharp Sanderson and was first printed as a column in the Scott County News on November 6,1964, and is one of several of her columns which make up the Scott County Historical Society’s publication Profiles of Scott Countians.)
In the year of 1905, a young man and his fiancée sat under a gum tree on a tract of land over in the area north of Oneida that later came to be called Roberta, to plan the location of their new home. The man was LOUIS E. BRYANT and the woman was Miss VIRGINIA LEE.
Mr. BRYANT was a civil engineer just home from abroad where he had been studying in France and in Germany He had a general idea of the kind of house he wanted, inspired as he had been by those that he had seen in Europe. His wife-to-be suggested a change or two, and a house plan of the English Manor type evolved.
Timbers of oak, chestnut, and hemlock were cut, sawed, hewn, and shaped on the grounds, and a house came into being. It had nine rooms and bath built around a central living room two stories high with beamed ceilings of hand hewn hemlock logs twenty-eight feet long. (Incidentally the bathroom had the first bathtub brought into Scott County, and it is still there on the place.) The four downstairs bedrooms also have beamed ceilings. The living room contains a rather massive fireplace that adds cheer, beauty, and comfort for all who enjoy the glow of a sparkling fire in an open fireplace.
Mr. BRYANT had the living room paneled in hemlock to a height of six feet, topped with a plate rack on which he displayed many of his Indian artifacts. He also had built-in bookcases on both sides of the room. One unusual feature of the room is the balcony across the north end, reached by a staircase on the west. The balcony is used to reach the upstairs east bedroom. There is also a bedroom on the west at the head of the stairs. The room also has four hand-made copper hanging lights designed by Mr. BRYANT and made in the local mine shop.
The dining room is of unusual design in that it has a dome ceiling of oak and wainscot paneling of chestnut, with built-in china closets in two corners. It has hand wrought iron candle holders.
The house in its early days was lighted by electricity whenever the mines were in operation which meant usually in the daytime, but occasionally at night. Later, after the mines closed down following the First World War, it was lighted by a Delco Power Plant.
The house was not, in the beginning, intended to be a year-round dwelling, but rather as a summer home. However, as time went on, it did become the BRYANT’s permanent home. They named this home "Tahiqua" from an Indian salutation, "I am at peace," that is "I am not on the war path."
Due to Mr. BRYANT’s interest in geology and Indian lore, he amassed huge quantities of geological specimens and Indian artifacts to the extent that he found it necessary to add a special room, 25 by 52 feet, to house them. This room has come to be referred to as the "Museum." Mrs. LOCKIN now uses it as her weaving studio. All of the woven pieces are works of artistic beauty unsurpassed anywhere. The intricate patterns, color harmony, and original designs are masterpieces of creative beauty.
The BRYANTs furnished their home with many fine and beautiful furnishings, many of which were family heirlooms. During their many years at Tahiqua, they had many pieces of furniture specially made for the place, some of which Mr. and Mrs. EARL LOCKIN, the present owners, were able to purchase.
As a result of Mr. BRYANT’s extended illness, in the latter part of his life here, the house suffered seriously from lack of needed maintenance and repairs. When the LOCKINs purchased it in 1941, they found much that needed to be done. Consequently, for the next ten years every time they had a few days or a few weeks’ vacation, they spent at Tahiqua. Following their retirement in 1954 the LOCKINs went to work in high gear to get the place into its present condition. They took special pains, however, not to destroy the original design and decor, believing it had an atmosphere all its own. This included new sills, floor joists, sub-floors, finished floors, new wiring, plumbing and fixtures. Also, new walls, sheathing and roof. Considerable outside work was also necessary, grading, lawn building, walks, steps, terraces and porches came in for doing and repairing. During the time between 1941 and 1954, the Lockins spent a considerable amount of time looking and searching for items of furniture and household furnishings needed to reclaim the house as a home. Every piece was purchased, made, repaired and reconditioned for a specific place or service.
They have personally made many pieces of furniture, designed or directed the making of others. During their spare time one winter, while living in Ohio, they bought, repaired, reconditioned, refinished and upholstered sixteen beautiful items of furniture from a mirror frame to a five piece living room suite they bought from the Goodwill Industries in Dayton, Ohio. It is of unusual design, is heavily hand carved in solid mahogany in a dragon, shell and beetle mode with full sculptured women’s heads as finals to the rear posts. Its original source is unknown by the LOCKINs but they were told that the BRYANTs bought it in an antique shop in Cuba many years ago.
Another prized item the LOCKINs procured from the BRYANTs when they were setting up the estate was a large carved rosewood table made from a grand piano once belonging to Mrs. BRYANT’s sister, Miss HORTENSE LEE. It had been given to her sister when she was a child as a birthday present. One almost exact in design and detail can be seen in "My Old Kentucky Home" at Harrodsburg, Kentucky, [incorrect, actually located in Bardstown, KY] which was once used by STEPHEN FOSTER.
They were fortunate during their ramblings through antique shops to find and purchase a solid cherry chest of drawers of the Empire period. After repairs and refinishing, it has taken its place in the arrangement of this. lovely home.
On another occasion, they found a solid walnut bureau, minus a top, at "Goodwill." They purchased it for $1.50. After considerable repairs and refinishing, they purchased a new marble top from the same source for $2.00. The bureau has its original pulls and white marble casters. This is one of the most cherished pieces in the home.
Several pieces of prized furniture, including a walnut chest of drawers of the Victorian period, a spool bed of an early date, washstands and bureaus have been processed in the same painstaking care, typical of the LOCKINs.
One piece of special interest to Mr. and Mrs. LOCKIN is a "Secretary" they brought from France. It is of the Napoleon II period and is made of lemonwood and ebony. Aside from the things previously mentioned, they have pieces of authentic furniture custom built.
To compliment their furniture Mrs. LOCKIN has woven practically all of her household linens, draperies, rugs and upholstering materials used on many pieces of their furniture. "She was most fortunate to run across an exceedingly interesting piece of weaving, a double woven coverlet. It is of the "Sorrel Blossom" pattern. It is a very old piece as attested by the fact that the white cotton yard is handspun, and the indigo blue woolen yarn is hand spun and home dyed. By "double woven" is meant two separate pieces of cloth interwoven in such a way to make two distinct pattern pieces. You can actually pull them apart.
One of Mrs. LOCKIN’s pieces of special interest is a coverlet of the "Pine Tree and Snowball" design, she wove some thirty years ago and it is still in use. An exact copy of the coverlet, in color and design, hangs in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
In keeping with their hand-woven materials and furniture, the Lockins have collected many other articles of interest and usefulness, such as lamps, candlesticks, dishes, pictures, ‘vases and many other appropriate articles.
Only a few miles from Oneida, in a setting of majestic splendor, is this lovely showplace, "Tahiqua." The poet EDGAR GUEST wrote:
It takes a heap of living to make a place a home,
A heap o'sun an’ shedder, an’ ye sometimes have t’ roam
Afore ye really 'preciate the things lef' behind
An’ hunger for ‘em somehow, with ‘em allus on yer mind
It don’t make arty difference how rich ye get to be;
How much yer chair arid tables cost, how great the luxury;
It ain’t home to ye, though it be the palace of a king,
Until somehow yer souI is sort o’ wrapped round everything.
The very souls of the LOCKINs are wrapped up in this beautiful old home where people from far and near make journeys and marvel at the beauty and artistic talent that has gone into the making of Scott County’s most unique home.
FNB Chronicle, Vol. 3, No. 2 – Winter 1992
First National Bank
P.O. Box 4699
Oneida, TN 37841
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