Swaggerty Blockhouse

The Swaggerty Blockhouse in Cocke County was built ca. 1787 by James Swaggerty on land acquired from the state of North Carolina in 1786 by Abraham Swaggerty. It is the only remaining log blockhouse on its original site in Tennessee. Swaggerty built the three-story cantilevered structure in a style commonly erected on the eastern frontier to provide protection and security for pioneer settlers. Blockhouses were sometimes part of larger defensive structures such as forts or stockades. Swaggerty Blockhouse, however, appeared to be a freestanding structure used by the family as a place of sanctuary in times of danger.

Resting on a one-story limestone foundation, the log structure enclosed an ever flowing spring that provided a constant source of water. The second story is of half dovetail-notched log construction twelve feet square. The third story extends (cantilevers) out four feet on all sides for a total length of twenty feet. The logs of the third story were replaced at some point with frame construction. A wooden hewn ladder, still preserved with the structure, provided access to the upper floors.

Ownership of the property passed from the Swaggerty family to Jacob Stephens in the mid-1850s. In 1921 T. J. Gillespie bought the property and his son, Gay Gillespie, has continued to preserve and protect the blockhouse.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Swaggerty Blockhouse
  • Author
  • Website Name Tennessee Encyclopedia
  • URL
  • Access Date June 13, 2024
  • Publisher Tennessee Historical Society
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 1, 2018