ROAN MOUNTAIN — The home of one of the most industrious men ever to reside in Roan Mountain has been restored and will be dedicated in a ceremony on Saturday. The public is invited to attend a reception and tour of the house at 1 p.m.
Gen. John T. Wilder built two houses on Main Street during his time in Roan Mountain. Wilder is remembered for his work to create the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad and to develop the iron mines at Cranberry, N.C. The railroad hauled the iron mined at Cranberry to Johnson City.
Wilder also is remembered for building the Cloudland Hotel on top of Roan Mountain that catered to wealthy families seeking relief from the summer heat of Eastern cities.
The house being dedicated on Saturday is the smaller of the two Wilder built in the late 19th century and is believed to have been the first one he built. One of Wilders’ daughters occupied the house from the mid-1880s to about 1900.
The house was purchased at auction about two years ago by local resident Robert Burleson, who has painstakingly restored the house to its original condition. His father, Tom Burleson, said the house is unfurnished to allow visitors “to see the bare bones and the quality of the 19th century workmanship.
Tom Burleson said there are no immediate plans for the house. Robert is an artist and the house could become an art gallery and coffee shop. One thing the Burlesons hope is that the restoration will not only be faithful to Wilder’s home, but also to his dream of attracting people to come and enjoy the natural beauty of Roan Mountain.