The Home of Sam and LaVada Baggett in Brownsville, TN.
When we choose our homes to feature, our first qualification is that they must be well loved. The home that we have chosen for February’s issue certainly meets that qualification. The home of Sam and LaVada Baggett in Brownsville, TN has had the love of five different owners over the years beginning with its builders, the Kinney’s. Mr. William Kinney married Miss Marie King, whose brother lived across the street. Mr. and Mrs. Kinney were childless and lavished love on their home. Mr. Kinney would buy a new Ford Coupe every year and bought his wife a LaSalle car - very similar to a Roadmaster Buick. According to a next-door neighbor, Bob Moses, the Kinney’s kept their home beautifully, “My mother was always nervous that I might break something when she would take me to visit.” He finished, ‘they were close friends of my parents, Elizabeth and Bob Moses.”
“The lumber for the home came from England. Another person had ordered the solid cherry lumber, but didn’t take it - and the Kinney’s got it at a really good price,” LaVada Baggett confided, “they built it between 1910 and 1912 for around $12,000.” The home was masterfully created with solid Cherry woodwork and beams, leaded stained glass doors and windows which are still in the home today. In the gentlemen’s parlor, a rugged stone fireplace centers the wall opposite large cherry sliding doors that grant entry into the room, now labeled ‘den’. Plaster walls have been lovingly maintained, and the original matchbook oak flooring accents the entire downstairs, except for the kitchen, which the Baggetts have redone to suit their tastes. The only other major change that the current owners have made is an upgrade to the heating system - LaVada wanted central air and heat, so the radiators moved out of the home.
Fireplaces with original Italian marble tiles are in every room except the ‘den’ and the kitchen. Both of those fireplaces have their own character - the den has its stone, but the kitchen has the original brick flu with an updated mantel and heater in front. “The original fireplace had been closed up and a stove had been added, we just made it a little more like it would have been originally,” Baggett added. The sink in the remodeled kitchen was from another estate sale. “It’s old, you don’t see sinks with two built-in draining boards.” The Baggetts also created a laundry room from the old breakfast room. “We took the original kitchen cabinets, refinished one and put it in the hallway that was created from the breakfast room and placed the other, still painted, into the laundry room.” Baggett finished, “We wanted to repurpose everything that we took out.”
There are two sets of stairs in the home, one for the owners to use and another for the butler and maid that ‘Miss’ Marie Reed Kinney always had. The front stairs have beautiful cherry molding that accents the underside of the stairs. The back stairs, also cherry, turn down and go back to the kitchen.
All four floors are built to last, from the basement to the completely floored attic. It “feels like a fort” Baggett explained, “My husband and I looked at several older homes because I love antiques. This was the only one that he would agree to buy; he could see the strength of the home - and how well built it is.” Baggett’s love for antiques, and all things old, is clearly visible in the home’s decor. Most of the furniture came out of estate sales from some of Brownsville’s homes.
Upstairs, the Baggetts love of antiques truly shines. The beautiful high poster beds are complete with step stools. The bed in the Master bedroom is from the Bierson Estate. In the master, a bathroom with original Italian tile floors, original tub, and pedestal sink add to the authenticity of the entire home. A second bath does not have the original tile, but the pedestal sink remains. A second bedroom upstairs has been converted into Sam’s office, complete with his favorite things - a large desk from a bank in Chicago, baseballs, memorabilia and a working shoe shine machine that he picked up from Dyersburg, where he is Vice President of Ford Construction Co. Sam still uses the shoe shine. Also in the office is a pretty little washstand that was from LaVada’s family, belonging to William and Ally Campbell.
The guest bedroom features a bed from the Chapman estate. The Chapman family married into the Moses family, who are now the Baggett’s neighbors. The bedspread is an old style, a popcorn stitch, crocheted spread. LaVada’s talent is also shown as she cross-stitched a quilt for that room.
In the foyer upstairs, one of LaVada’s favorite pieces takes center stage. A small rosewood settee, complete with horsehair stuffing. “It’s from an Antebellum home in Mississippi and I love it.” She smiled as she talked about the piece, “I love this piece, but I can’t say that it’s my absolute favorite. I love my dining room, living room, den, and everything in this house. We’ve put our hearts into making this home beautiful.” The eclectic mixture of periods attest to her statement, “I buy the things I love!”
Friends have brought her ‘finds’ as well. A friend brought her a pair of soft brass candelabra from the French Quarter in New Orleans. These grace a perfect spot in her dining room. She also has a drop leaf table that has been added to the dining room to help with overflow when they entertain. “I have a game table for overflow as well that’s in the living room; it’s from England and has gorgeous claw feet.” Baggett continued our tour, showing us a Goofus Glass lamp and two ruby glass vases that were a part of the purchase from Mississippi.
The Baggetts are the fourth family to live in this home, after the Kinney family, who must have loved the neighborhood, as they built across the street from Mrs. Kinney’s brother. The Shaw family were the next owners, followed by the Gruenwald family and finally the Manning family, who did much of the revitalizing of the original cherry wood that had been painted at one time.
While the Baggetts didn’t have to change a lot on the inside, or remodel extensively, they did put their stamp on the backyard. A pool, large deck area, and concrete fence complete their additions.
Sam and LaVada have been married 54 years, their sons Travis and Galen Baggett, owner of American Motors, and their families all gather with their parents for happy occasions in this lovingly kept home. Grandchildren include Rachel, Harley, Drew, and Shelby and great-granddaughter, Kamryn.
Publishers note: If you want to have an actual tour of your own, the home is slated to be on 2nd Annual Historic Home Tour in Brownsville on June 2, 2018. The event is presented by the Haywood Heritage Foundation; for more information, please check out their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Haywood-Herritage-Foundation or Email HHF at firstname.lastname@example.org.