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National Register: Samuel Cleage House

built 1823 at present day 1163 Hwy 11 North, Athens, TN 37303

The Samuel Cleage House, built circa 1826, is one of the best preserved high Federal style structures in the state. It is also one of the first brick structures built by white settlers in the newly ceded Hiwassee District. The house was designed and built by the notable Cleage and Crutchfield firm. Cleage's building influence stretches from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to Fincastle County, Virginia, to Upper East Tennessee. Through his partner, Thomas Crutchfield, his influence spread throughout East Tennessee

and into Alabama.

The house is notable for its Flemish bond brick courses, Flemish gables, molded brick cornice, unique proportions, side hall plan, elaborate interior detailing, and its original imposing dominance upon the landscape. The elevations are very similar to those of

Asher Benjamin’s townhouses. Significant is the original true one and one-half story ell.

Date of erection: c. 1826

Architect: Cleage and Crutchfield

The firm was a well-known merchandising and construction business enterprise ran by Samuel Cleage and his son-in-law Thomas Crutchfield in the 19th century. Cleage was the senior partner of the firm. He was involved in the construction of the Federal

buildings stretching from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to Fincastle, Virginia, to East Tennessee. Crutchfield was responsible for many public and institutional buildings in East

Tennessee, as well as some others elsewhere. Employees of the firm included the Cleage sons (David and Alexander), the Crutchfield sons (Thomas, Jr, and William), apprentices,

journeymen and slave craftsmen. David Cleage continued to run the firm following his father's death, although he spent some time in banking and real estate. Alexander Cleage later took up a banking career, and with his brother David was instrumental in the

establishment of the first banking developments in Athens.

Crutchfield's sons later became prominent in the business and political history of Chattanooga. Family tradition of building arts continued in the younger members of the Cleage and Crutchfield families: Thomas Alexander Cleage, son of Alexander Cleage, became a noted contractor in the late 19th century, and William Crutchfield II, great grandson of Thomas Crutchfield, was a prominent Chattanooga architect in the recent decades of this century.

Samuel Cleage was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, near Elizabeth township in 1781. He was the youngest of seven children born to Alexander and Susannah Marion Cleage. His father, Alexander, emigrated from a small village outside of Belfast (Ireland) and came to Pennsylvania. He was a contractor and builder, and he fought in the Revolutionary War against the British. About the year 1800, the Cleages moved to Botetourt County, Virginia, near the town of Buchanan. In May of the same year young Samuel, then 19, married Mary Stanback in Virginia. They had three children: Alexander, David, and Sarah Moore Cleage. Samuel died in 1850.

Sarah Moore Cleage, Samuel's daughter, was married in April 1820 in Bortetourt County, Virginia, to Thomas Crutchfield. Crutchfield was a descendant of English ancestry who had come to Virginia as early as 1680. He was the son of Robert and Mary Nickols Crutchfield. He and Sarah had four children: Mary Jane, William, Samuel, and Thomas Jr. Thomas died in 1850, which was also the year of the death of his father-in-law.

Original and subsequent owners: The Cleage home is built upon several tracts of land entered by Samuel Cleage in 1825, lying within the northeast quarter of section 9, the southwest quarter of section 15, and the northwest quarter of section 10 of the 4th township, in the 1st range west of the meridian of the old 4th Civil District and new 1st Civil District of McMinn County, Tennessee. Entry numbers 1212 consisting of 160 acres

applied for May 7, 1825, and numbers 1913 of 107 acres and 1914 of 159 acres were entered November 9, 1825. (Grant Book B, p.229, 230)

After Samuel's death in 1850 the property was divided among the sons, and David received the "Brick house" property. After David's death the property fell to his heirs.

Samuel R. Cleage to Harvey Gates: 1125 acres for $7,750 - June 7, 1893 - Deed Book DD p. 333-336. (see also Deed Book HH p. 72-74).

Harvey Gates to John B. Haley: 375 acres for $5,000 - March 10, 1898 - Deed Book II p. 170-171.

John B. Haley to B.M. Johnson: 315 acres "the tract of land where we now live and known as the old David Cleage farm "for $4,410 - March 18, 1905 - Deed Book 00 p. 284-5.

B.M. Johnson to J.L. and E.M. Mitchell: 315 acres for $13,000 - Deed Book vv p. 221-222. (date not given)

J.L. and E.M. Mitchell to T.B. Guthrie, Trustee: 662 acres for $58,000 - April 10, 1920 - Deed Book 3G p. 431-433.

T.B. Guthrie, Trustee to T.B. Guthrie, et al: 635 acres for $50,000 - October 29, 1923 - Deed Book 3J p. 104

T.B. Guthrie, et al to Clem J. Jones: 191 acres for $8,583,37 - June 11, 1936 - Deed Book 3T p. 528-529.

Clem J. Jones to Robert A. Davis: Will Book Ip. 332-333 (date not given).

Robert A. Davis to Maude E. Davis: Will probated April 14, 1950 - Will Book J. p. 195

M.E. Davis to Robert Asa Davis, Jr.: April 1, 1967 - Deed Book p. 543

Cleage manufactured most of his own materials. He employed his sons as apprentices and journeymen as well as others including several slaves as workmen. It is likely that these slaves developed buildings skills of their own that were important to local building history. The following appeared in an article taken from family oral tradition: "The slaves were taught to mix the clay and sand for bricks, mold them in wooden molds, stack and burn them, and lay them with a carefully mixed mortar. They were taught to make plaster of sand and lime. The lime had to be made by taking new limestone and burning it, after which it was kept for months before using. It was then mixed with sand, and coarse hairs were used in the first coat."

'Many buildings were framed, and the workmen were taught how to make mortise and tenon joints instead of nailed ones." In Recollections of Old Athens the writer tells that "Samuel Cleage required his workmen to put eighteen coats of paint on every bit of wood." The design and proportion are similiar to those of Asher Benjamin's townhouses (1827 edition).


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