Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Taylor-Phillips House

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Institution Name: Milligan College
Original/Historic Place Name: Taylor Home-place; Williams-Taylor House
Location on Campus:
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
ca. 1782original construction Unknown
pre- 1880?rotation by 90 degrees; addition Unknown
ca. 1906remodeled; addition Unknown
ca. 1931renovation Cardwell, Leland
2002restoration; renovation in October Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: limestone
Walls: log (original); plaster (original); clapboard (current); brick (current)
Roof: tin
ca. 1782-1986private residence (Williams and Taylor families)
1986-present (2007)other (guest house)

Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Although the exact construction date of the Taylor-Phillips House is unknown, it is certain that the land came into the possession of North Carolina Land Master Edmund Williams in 1782 by way of a Revolutionary War land grant. The original structure is thought to have been a two-story, three-bay log house facing either north or south, surrounded by 230 acres of farmland. In 1867, one acre of this land adjacent to the Buffalo Creek Christian Church was donated by Joshua Williams for the purpose of erecting a brick building to house the Buffalo Male and Female Institute. Joshua Williams owned the house until 1938. All his children were educated at the Institute, which became Milligan College in 1881.

Sometime between 1838 and 1880 the structure was repositioned and roated ninety degrees and a two-story, three-bay frame addition was built onto the west end. A small Italianate porch graced the front of the building. Clapboard was used on the exterior of the whole building, though there was evidence that the log structure had clapboard on it before the addition was built. Five generations of the Williams family lived in the house. In addition, Colonel Wilson Gilvan Barker, president of Buffalo Male and Female Institute, lived there with his daughter and son-in-law, Nannie and George T. Williams, from 1900 until his death in 1905.

Congressman Alfred Alexander Taylor, a cousin to the Williams family and trustee of Milligan College, bought the house and approximately 16 acres of land in 1906. Taylor and his siblings, including his brother, Tennessee Governor Robert "Our Bob" Taylor, were all alumni of the Buffalo Institute and Milligan College. Taylor's intention was to raise his family near Milligan and its preparatory department. An addition and renovations were made to help the large family fit more comfortably into the home. The "L" shape of the building was boxed in with the installation of a bathroom and second-story bedroom. Wider windows were installed, as was a coal furnace. The porch was replaced with a verandah which wrapped around three sides of the house and three fireplaces were remodeled. In 1920, "Uncle Alf" successfully ran for Governor of Tennessee. He returned to the Taylor home-place in 1923. In 1925 Milligan College acquired part of the Taylor property for the establishment of a better athletics program. College administrators and student clubs also met in the house. Upon Governor Taylor's death in 1931, the home passed to his son, Robert Love "Little Bob" Taylor. At the time Robert was a prominent Johnson City, TN, lawyer. He would later become the senior U.S. District Judge and preside over several landmark cases, including the 1956 Clinton High School desegregation case. Robert hired a specialist in "period" architecture, Leland Cardwell, to remodel the Taylor House to suit his status as a leading member of the community. The east-end chimney was rebuilt and the fireplace was faced in polished black marble and flanked with shell cabinets. The rest of the east room was given plaster walls, a chair rail, and dentiled cornice. French doors and new windows were installed, a second story bathroom was built, and the kitchen wing was remodeled into a breakfast room and modern kitchen. In addition, a three-door garage was built across the street and a clay tennis court and formal garden joined the old barn, apple orchard, kennels and animal pens.

In 1989, Milligan College purchased both the Taylor House and the surrounding 16.7 acres. The house was used by various members of the staff for several years, but began to show signs of disrepair. In 2001, Clarinda Phillips Jeanes, wife of Milligan President Donald Jeanes, and alumnus Clint Holloway announced plans to restore the Taylor House and to list it among the Tennessee Historic Sites. Teams of volunteers rewired the house, did extensive work on the foundation and porch, installed new windows and doors, put up new clapboard, repaired the chimneys, painted, restored the flooring, and updated the kitchen. A door on the second floor was installed to allow a view of logs from the original structure still embedded in the walls. The Taylor-Phillips House is now used as a guest house on campus and as a venue for scholarship fundraising events of The Associated Ladies for Milligan.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Cornwell, Cynthia Ann. Beside the Waters of the Buffalo: A History of Milligan College to 1941. Johnson City, TN: Overmountain Press, 1989.

Holloway, Clint. "Age Deo Fide et Amore: A History of Milligan College, 1940-1968." M. A. thesis, Emmanuel School of Religion, 1998.

Hopwood, Josephus. A Journey Through the Years: An Autobiography. St. Louis, MO: Bethany Press, 1932.

II. Location of other data:
University: Special Collections, Facilities Management Office, Unknown
—details: Archives, Milligan College.

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