“Rogana,” the historic name of the stone cottage built around 1800 by Irish immigrant and Tennessee pioneer Hugh Rogan, is located near Bledsoe’s Creek in eastern Sumner County. The building is a rare surviving example of American architecture that is clearly based on an Irish folk house. Dressed limestone, a building material plentiful in both Rogan’s native County Donegal and his adopted Sumner County, was used to construct the two-room house. While well adapted for the frontier, the house was also designed to adhere to Irish folk traditions. These included a linear floor plan, thought to be essential to long life and family harmony, and the placement of corresponding doors and windows for the safe passage of spirits. A central stone chimney provided a fireplace for each room and a source of heat for the full loft--a concession to “new world” architecture. The low gabled roof, also traditionally Irish, may have been first thatched with straw.
Rogana was the original house on the farm owned by Rogan, his family, and their descendants for several generations. Here Hugh, his wife Nancy, sons Bernard and Francis, and area Catholics met for services for nearly fifty years until the Catholic Church was formally established in Sumner County in 1837. The two-room stone cottage was dismantled, moved, and reconstructed at Bledsoe’s Fort Historical Park in 1998. Francis Rogan, born in 1798, built a substantial brick residence in 1825 adjacent to his parents’ stone cottage. That house is being purchased by the Ulster-American Folk Park in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. Plans are for the house to be dismantled, shipped, and reconstructed in the park where it will be interpreted as part of the migration story of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. When that move is complete, only the Rogan family cemetery will remain on the site.
Caneta S. Hankins, "Hugh Rogan of Counties Donegal and Sumner: Irish Acculturation in Frontier Tennessee," in Tennessee History: The Land, the People, and the Culture, ed. Carroll Van West (1998), 56-79.
Published » December 25, 2009 | Last Updated » January 01, 2010