A stately Greek Revival cottage still sets atop Rebel Hill on Towles Ave., after being constructed in 1857 by Dillard Stone. The dignified home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988 by owners Douglas and Nettie Walling Moyers.
Mr. Moyers, almost 92, lost his wife in 2010, but still resides in the residence.
“This is home, and I don’t want to leave,” said Moyers. “Nettie and I were married here in 1947, and have lived here ever since.”
The property is sometimes referred to as the Stone-Pennebaker House, getting the name from the original builder and Samuel Pennebaker, who Harriet Stone married after the death of her husband, Dillard Stone. The house has had several owners since its construction: Jas. H. Morford purchased it in 1898, and sold it to Geo Wadey in 1910, who sold it to S.D. Britton in 1910, who let it go to E.J. Mears in 1912. Mears sold it to May Pettit in 1920, with Alonzo N. Walling purchasing it at auction on Aug. 15, 1921. The Wallings were the parents of Nettie Walling Moyers.
The property is steeped in history, having survived the Civil War, with Confederate soldiers occupying the hill for a time. It was later named Rebel Hill. In fact, some of the detachments camped at the foot of the hill, which was known as Yankeetown, in Aug. 1863. A Yankee general commanding the troops issued an order which reads: “Headquarters 3rd Division, 21 A Co. The officers and soldiers of this command are ordered not to cut down or interfere with the grove of trees in front of the house occupied by Mrs. Harriett Pennebaker, by order of Brig. Gen. H.P. Cleave.
The trees mentioned in the decree included a very large white oak which is still standing at the rear of the property. The tree is visible from across town, and Moyers says it is posibly the oldest in the state of Tennessee.
According to documents submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior for verification to be placed on the historic register, the house is built on a foundation of limestone, that are two feet thick and almost eight feet in length. The exterior walls are three bricks thick, and were believed to be made on site by slaves. The interior walls are two bricks thick on stone foundations. Georgian characteristics are represented in the double chimneys at either end of the gabled roof. Four white paneled columns support the pedimented gable portico, framing double front doors with elegantly carved panels featuring hand-carved rosettes.
Moyers is the first to admit he has not been able to keep the interior up to historical standards, but did do some rennovating in 1979 adding a bedroom and a bathroom to the rear of the structure.
The nine-room house is built on the L-plan, plus a large hallway with a winding staircase.leading from the recessed front porch to the back porch. The ceilings are 12 feet downstairs, and 10 feet upstairs. Some of the woodworking in the house is of slight Egyptian influence, with elaborate carvings above the doors and windows.
Moyers retired from the Department of Agriculture after 34 years of service. He was a soil conservation and resource conservation agent with USDA. He did farm planning and management, also serving as a consultant. During his tenure with USDA, he traveled to every courthouse in the state, all 95 of them. He and Nettie enjoyed traveling, and visited all of the 50 states, and every continent except Australia and the South Pole.
“I’m still a conservationist at heart,” said Moyers. He believes in taking care of the land and preserving it for future generations.
He is responsible for planting the first field of Kentucky 31 fescue in Tennessee, Warren County in particular. It seems he was right out of college in 1945 and had the opportunity to acquire the seeds and planted them in Viola.
He also received loblolly pine seedlings from the University of Tennessee, and planted the first of the trees in Tennessee.
Moyers takes pride in the 156-year-old home and property, and plans to live out his final days there.
“I’ve outlived just about everybody I ever knew,” said Moyers. “I know this house needs a lot of things done to it, but I’m too old to do it now, so I’ll just enjoy it as is.”