David Chenault, AKA “Tennessee David” bought this land in 1845 as part of his extensive farmland holdings. One of the most successful farmers and extensive landowners of Sumner County, David Chenault was a man of fine character, industrious and charitable. His wife was Louisa Quisenberry Chenault. They did not live on this land. David and Louisa lived in a house in Castillian Springs, “Greenfield”, a federal style home built in 1840 by architect John Fonville. In 1849, David sold this land to his brother in law, Robert Elkin. Robert’s wife was Lucy Quisenberry Elkin, Louisa’s sister. In 1850 Robert and Lucy had this house, Maple Cottage, built by the same architect, John Fonville. It is fun to imagine Lucy and Luisa planning their homes together and their meetings with the architect.
Maple Cottage is a unique English basement style house, built with 10 rooms and 8 fireplaces. It had 2 original indoor kitchens – one upstairs and one downstairs, and no indoor staircase. Entry into the basement floor and the upper floor were by means of outdoor staircases. English basement style houses were usually built as part of a series of row houses in large cities such as London. Maple Cottage was designed as a free standing structure, and is the only known free standing English basement style house still in existence today in Sumner County.
Robert and Lucy owned Maple Cottage for 39 years, from 1850 until 1889 when they sold it to Amanda B. Harris. During the time that Robert and Lucy owned the home, the American Civil War took place from 1861 until 1865. Maple Cottage served as a hospital during the war.