fce Montgomery County

  1. 2030A Cumberland Heights Road
  2. Clarksville TN 37040
  3. Tel: (931)648-5725
  4. Fax: ( 931)648-5725
  5. Email: mmpile@utk.edu
  1. Smith Trahern Mansion
  2. 1st & McClure Street
  3. Clarksville TN 37040
  4. Tel: (931)648-9998
  5. UT Extension of Montgomery County
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The History of The Smith Trahern Mansion

A driving tour map of other mansions is available from the Clarksville-Montgomery County Museum and the Tourist Information Center.

For more information regarding tours or rentals, contact:
Debby Johnson, Project Director: (931)368-0239 or
(931) 648-5725 or
write to: P.O. Box 852 Clarksville, TN 37041

"The Smith/Trahern Mansion, a beautiful home overlooking the Cumberland River, was designed by Adolphus Heiman for Christopher Smith, a wealthy tobacconist, in 1858(Mr. Heiman designed many structures, including the famous Belmont Estate in Nashville.) Built in 1858-59, during the troubled Pre-Civil War era, the home reflects the transition between Greek Revival and Italinata styles, which were so popular at that time. Although not as large as some, the home boasts grand hallways, an exquisite curved staircase and a"widow's walk" on the roof. The original main building consisted of four large rooms on each of the two floors, opening onto both the hallways and the balconies. The kitchen was attached to the back of the house, but there was no connecting door. Of the many outbuildings that must have been on the property at this time, only the slave's quarters remains.

The Obituary of Christopher H. Smith view here

Adjoining the Smith Trahern property is a cemetery that dates back to the 1700's including the grave of Valentine Sevier, an early settler whose family was massacred by the Indians. Mr. Smith's business took him often by river-boat to New Orleans. On one such trip, he fell ill and died. 

As his body was being transported back to Clarksville, the riverboat blew up and his body was never recovered.In 1905, at the death of Lucy Smith, the house passed to her grandson Charles Lacy Lockert, Jr.
It was then sold out of the family in 1919. From 1919 until Joseph and Margaret Trahern purchased the home in 1947, it was used mostly for rental property, the rooms being divided into apartements. During WWII, it was even used as temporary housing for soldiers. Mr. & Mrs. Russell Rives, the last family to own and live in the home, added the large room off to the kitchen. After the City of Clarksville purchased the mansion, Martha Martin-Pile, Montgomery County Extension agent, University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service, submitted a request for the Mansion to be used by the Homemakers as a "Life Skills Learning Center".

Matching funds from the City of Clarksville and American Express, plus the time and skills of the city workers, the Homemakers Clubs and many other organizations enabled the restoration to begin. Sara Beth Warne, interior designer, researched the time period and planned the colors and patterns used in the paint, wallpaper and drapes. Ruth Fitzgerald has been named the mansion's first director.

Brief Overview of Christopher H. Smith Family, Clarksville, Tennessee

Based on information in “The Christopher Smith Mansion” by Ursula Smith Beach, County Historian; published 7 May 1986 in the Montgomery County News and research by Brenda Harper September 2015.

In addition to the appeal of the history of the Smith-Trahern Mansion, an account of the Smith family holds great interest to the general public. That encompasses their contribution to the growth and prosperity of Clarksville in the years shortly prior to the Civil War and the years thereafter when tobacco was the source of great wealth due to the exportation of vast amounts of that crop to the European markets. This highly prized variety, known as Type 22 and labeled the “Strongest tobacco in the world,”had achieved a worldwide reputation.

Christopher H. Smith, Sr. (1796-1860) married Jane R. Cosby (1797-1859) in Louisa County, VA on 24 Dec1818. Both were born in Louisa County and are buried in Riverview cemetery, Clarksville. In 1832 the family settled in Kentucky near the juncture where the borders of Todd and Christian County meet Montgomery County, TN. They were parents of eight children. The first five were born in Virginia; the three youngest, in Kentucky. Sometime after 1850 and by 1859, most of the family had relocated to the Clarksville area.

Three sons, Christopher, Jr. (also known as Kit), John Kimball & William Cosby, became local tobacconists and had substantial, attractive homes. Daughter Louisa Virginia married Perseus H. Porter, also a tobacconist, and their home (long since removed) was constructed on the high point of the area now known as Porter’s Bluff. Local descendants of this family are from Christopher’s brothers William Cosby and John Kimball Smith.

John Kimball Smith built his home atop the hillside (near quarry area) overlooking the Red River. The property later became the Odd Fellows Home for widows and orphans. The house was remodeled into a hospital. Additional buildings were constructed for a school and dormitories. None of the structures remain.

William Cosby Smith built his home overlooking the Cumberland River near Trice’s Landing where the brothers had one of their tobacco shipping enterprises. This house is a private residence, on the National Register of Historic Places and known as the Smith-Hoffman house as well as Upland Hall.

There is another “Christopher Smith home.” It is located on Madison Terrace, the home of Christopher 
Kropp Smith, son of James Kimball Smith. For many years C. K. Smith’s daughter, Mildred Smith Glenn lived there. It continues as a private residence in her family. This home is known is “Oak Top,” which sometimes leads to confusion with another historic home “Tip-Top” which is a private residence, aka the Trahern-Patch home, located on Trahern Terrace.

Christopher H. Smith married Lucy Dabney 4 Dec 1856. He bought four acres in 1858 from Bryce Stewart who had large land holdings in the area. Although the specific date of construction is not known, the family was shown residing there in the 1859-60 City Directory and the 1860 Federal Census. Kit and Lucy had two daughters: Margaret born in Oct 1858, died 17 Oct 1929; Nannie born in 29 July 1860, died 8 Oct 1912.
In addition to his tobacco interests, Christopher was a partner in a dry goods store with Samuel Blair Seat. He owned a variety of properties which included stores and a warehouse. Of the three brothers, Christopher was most involved in the exporting of tobacco and negotiating the prices on the market.

His frequent travels to New Orleans, both before and after the war, warranted a residence there as confirmed by his appearance in the 1861 and 1866 New Orleans City Directories. He succumbed to yellow fever there in 1866. His body was lost when the steamship bringing it home sank in the Mississippi. For years after her death, there were stories of Lucy being seen at the top of the house watching the river for the boat that never arrived.

When Christopher died, he and Lucy had been married 9 years; she was 39 years old. The young widow was left with 6 and 8 year old daughters to raise. There is little that reveals how she managed to thrive, especially after the recent economic devastation of the war. She may have participated in the dry goods business partnership with Samuel Blair Seat. It seems clear that they maintained a relationship since she and her daughters are residing in the same household with the Seat family according to the 1870 Federal Census. Whether they are in the Smith home or elsewhere is not clear. In the 1880 Federal Census, Lucy and her daughters are in the Spring Street house along with Margaret and Preston Dawson, 30 year old servant and her 14 year old son.

In 1882, Margaret married Rufus Napoleon Rhodes (1856-1910), a local attorney. He was elected city attorney 1877 and four years afterward. He served as Montgomery County’s representative in the Tennessee General Assembly for the 1881 and 1882 sessions. Margaret and Rufus relocated to Chicago, Illinois where he practiced law for four years. In 1897 they moved to Birmingham, Alabama where Rufus became a successful newspaper publisher. Both Margaret and Rufus were prominent citizens of Birmingham and are buried there. They had no children. A city park in Birmingham bears his name.

Nannie married Charles Lacy Lockert (1855-1941), a Clarksville druggist, 23 Sep 1884 in Chicago. (That was while Margaret and Rufus were living there, but no known reason why the marriage took place there instead of here.) When their only child, Charles Lacy Lockert, Jr. (1888-1974) was born, they were again residing in Clarksville. All known records indicate they lived with Lucy in the family home until after her death in 1905. Nannie, Charles and Lacy are shown living with Margaret and Rufus in Birmingham on the 1910 Federal Census. They are living in Nashville according to the 1911 Clarksville City Directory which also shows him as vice-president of Dickson-Sadler Drugs in Clarksville. Nannie died the following year in Nashville.

Apparently Lucy lived in the Smith home from 1880 continuously until her death in 1905. Her 1888 will originally left the house to be equally divided between her daughters. A codicil in 1898 changed the bequest to her grandson, Charles Lacy Lockert, Jr.

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At Present

The Mansion is now the home of the Family and Community Educators of Montgomery County FCE and will be used to practice and teach research base information from the University of Tennessee, Land Grant College.In March, 1988, The Smith Trahern Mansion was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Mansion building is now equipped with air conditioning and fire-security system.

The Great Hall