House Envy: Historic Federal in TN

House Envy


LOCATION: Johnson City, TN

PRICE: $279,000

HOUSE STATS: 4,190 sq. ft., 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths

House Envy

The House. It’s a sort of countrified Federal, constructed neither of wood nor brick, but rather of native Tennessee limestone. As the listing reports, the home has survived mostly unchanged since its 1801 construction, and numerous Federal characteristics mark the home as authentic to its period—the symmetrical layout and the architectural grace of the main staircase, as well as the narrow proportions (and thin mullions) of the windows. But there are rural touches as well. So in a way the home’s hybrid design tells the tale of its own creation at a specific moment in American history.

House Envy

The History. Often called the Martin Katzmiller House, the property sits on a 2-acre lot that’s been named a Landmark Historic Conservation District, while the house itself appears on the National Register of Historic Places. Originally, Katzmiller commissioned a Quaker stone mason to construct the what would have been a fairly large house, not in Pennsylvania where he and his wife were married, but on the frontier of the new American West. Katzmiller paid $520 for 130 acres, and over time he expanded the estate tenfold. He and his wife raised eight children on the land, and it stayed among the family for upwards of a century.

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