Long before there was such a thing as an interstate highway system, the Old Stage Road carried people from Washington, DC to Nashville, Tennessee, with many stops in between. It is, in fact, the oldest road in the state of Tennessee, and while it no longer sees traffic, it still runs through Exchange Place Living History Farm in Kingsport, Tennessee, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Originally part of a 3,000-acre land grant given to Edmund Pendleton in 1756, Exchange Place remained wilderness until John Gaines and wife Letitia received 160 acres as bounty for his service in the War of 1812. Gaines gradually increased his holdings to more than 2,000 acres, but wanting more of a presence in Virginia, he made a trade with John Preston of Abingdon, Virginia. Preston gave up property he owned in Scott County, Virginia, and in exchange he received the western portion of the Gaines plantation, including the main house and its dependencies. Mr. Preston then gave the land to his son, James, upon his marriage to Catherine Ann Greenway.
Today visitors can re-visit that simpler time. The non-profit, volunteer-run Exchange Place Living History Farm serves a mission to preserve and interpret the heritage of mid-19th century farm life in Northeast Tennessee. It does this in three ways:
As an educational facility that endeavors to demonstrate the resourcefulness of mid-19th century agrarian life.
As a viable working farm that continues to maintain the heritage breeds of animals and heirloom plantings essential to life of this antebellum period.
As a regional attraction that offers tours, traditional period demonstrations and other public events designed to increase community awareness and showcase heritage arts, crafts, and skills of the Appalachian region.
And as a regional attraction, it serves the public – and helps to maintain the antebellum structures, as well as feed the animals who live on the farm all year long – by hosting several public events every year.