At the corner of Main Street and Kivett Drive in Tazewell sits the reportedly oldest standing home in Claiborne County. For the last decade, the stone two-story structure has stood vacant, awaiting its due spruce-up, while officials decide just who might actually hold the rightful title.
After nearly ten long years, officials have placed the historic Graham-Kivett home on a short list of those ready for the tax sale chopping block.
Exactly when the sale might occur, however, is anyone’s guess. The sale date has not yet been announced.
The home, currently on the National Historic Registry, could undergo extensive restoration to its original 1810 décor, if the Claiborne Chamber of Commerce is successful in obtaining the title.
“It would be a real shame if someone buys the house and decides to demolish it so they can put up a business of some sort,” said Rob Barger, chairman of the Claiborne Economic Partnership (CEP).
The proposed project, a joint effort of the CEP and the Claiborne Economic & Community Development board (CE&CD), would include the construction of an attached building to house a Welcome Center and the inclusion of a county museum, said Barger.
The late county historian John Kivett, who held last ownership of the family home, often recounted the overnight visit in 1863 of General Ulysses S. Grant. According to Kivett’s account, Grant had traveled to the then-rustic area of Cumberland Gap. In need of overnight accommodations, the general wound up at the Kivett home, where he spent ‘a most comfortable evening.’
Research into the authenticity of this account is under way. Lincoln Memorial University’s Dr. Charles Hubbard is digging into the past to find documented evidence of the fact.
If documentation can be found, the Chamber would have a much easier time garnering federal and state grant monies to help in the restoration efforts.
“As the oldest standing home in this county, it is very important to this community,” said Barger.
The historic Graham-Kivett home, affectionately named ‘Greystone,’ housed during its long tenure the families of William Graham, Dr. James Fulkerson, attorney James P. Kivett and the Kivett descendants.
The structure was noted for its part during the Civil War as a base of federal occupation.
If the CEP and the CE&CD are successful in purchasing the home, Barger says plans to raise funds to renovate the historic structure will move rapidly along. Grants will be applied for and an account for public donations will be set up at First Century Bank.
In the meantime, Barger invites everyone to ‘like’ the ‘Save the Graham-Kivett Home’ Facebook page. The page will be updated as new information on the project becomes available.
Reach Jan Runions at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @scribeCP.