This twenty-seven-room, five-story Victorian house of handmade brick was built in 1868-69 in Mossy Creek (now Jefferson City). Considered one of the state’s most nearly perfect examples of Second Empire style, Glenmore is now an Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities (APTA) property. Only two families owned and occupied the house, originally named “The Oaks.” John Roper Branner, president of the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad, built the house. In the 1870s his brother Joseph established the Branner Institute for Young Ladies in the mansion. Milton Preston Jarnagin purchased the mansion in 1882. A banker, businessman, and lawyer, Jarnagin graduated from Maryville College in 1846. During the Civil War, he was appointed a judge advocate and later practiced law in Memphis, where he married Agnes Watkins. The Jarnagins had five children; they renamed the house Glenmore in honor of a son who died in infancy. Son Frank and his wife Mary lived at Glenmore for fifty-three years.
The architectural gem of the T-shaped house is the graceful winding staircase with a beautifully carved newel post. A small replica of the stairway is also in the “Dolltown” portion of the mansion, where the family lived in winter. The carved woodwork of solid walnut and cherry came from Baltimore. The arched frames over the doors, recessed arch windows, and fanlights are Victorian delights. Today’s visitors to the mansion can enjoy Glenmore’s beauty and tradition for hospitality.