The Hermitage, West Cabin, 4580 Rachel's Lane, Hermitage, Davidson County, TN
Significance: Andrew and Rachel Jackson's first home on The Hermitage property was a two-story structure made of horizontal log construction, later lowered to the one-story building seen today. This one-story structure is known as the West Cabin. Some time after The Hermitage Mansion was completed (1819-21), the cabin became quarters for several of the enslaved Africans working on the Jackson plantation. The West Cabin survived because of its connection to Andrew Jackson, and this association with Jackson assured its protection at The Hermitage. The cabin is also of interest as a representative of a prevalent - and disappearing - vernacular house type in East and Middle Tennessee. Moreover through its vernacular qualities, the log cabin served as the image of later-day, popular perceptions of Jackson as a frontiersman with rustic bravado and humble origins. Shortly after Jackson's Presidency, log cabins became a symbol of the republic's ideal, courageous citizen who staked a claim in the newly opened western lands across the Appalachians. In so doing, successful men such as Jackson could become yeomen, and political players, in the democratic system. As the agrarian paradigm of the founding fathers continued to feed an insatiable quest for land, effecting the phenomenon of westward migration, the mythic frontiersman and his log cabin superseded the Virginia planter in nineteenth-century politics. As a farmer and a soldier, Jackson embodied these notions of the brave frontiersmen but his dwelling was no crude shelter isolated in the woods. It was nicely finished architecturally and filled with fashionable good recognizable in New Orleans and Philadelphia. Jackson, in fact, built his log house around the same time as he launched the construction projects at Clover Bottom, including a race track, stables, stands, store, and a tavern or lodging facility. The West Cabin signifies Jackson's (and his wife's) awareness of the traditional as well as his commercial ventures.
Recent dendrochronology (2001) studies date the structure to 1798-1800. As was the East Cabin, this building was made primarily of tulip poplar.
Unprocessed Field note material exists for this structure: N377
Survey number: HABS TN-52-A
Building/structure dates: 1798-1800 Initial Construction
National Register of Historic Places NRIS Number: 66000722