The Brooks Family
When Mr. and Mrs. Brooks were ready to build a home on their new property just after World War II, they met with local architect Allen Dryden, Sr. During their initial consultation with Mr. Dryden, Mrs. Brooks expressed that she simply wanted “a little white farm house with a picket fence.”
Upon hearing these words, and with the understanding that the Brooks’ were hard-working, “salt-of-the-earth” people, Mr. Dryden then envisioned a quaint cottage bordered by a white picket fence. As all good architects would do, however, he was certain to ask what else they’d like their farm house to have. They answered with just two additional details:
Mrs. Brooks admitted that she’d very much like to see high ceilings in her new home – at least 12 feet high.
Mr. Brooks then acknowledged that he’d very much prefer his new home to have plenty of fireplaces.
So much for the “little white farm house.” Allandale as we know it today [which has since been dubbed the “White House of Kingsport”] was built instead. The name of the house is derived from Allan, a reference to Roan Allan F-38 [a leading Tennessee Walking horse], and the old English word dale, meaning peaceful valley.
Allandale, as designed by Mr. Dryden, is a modern adaptation pf classic Georgian architecture. In accordance with this pattern, all the main rooms lead off of the central foyer. Among the other traditional details incorporated in the house are the four chimneys [with corresponding formal fireplaces in the main rooms], a “hipped” [self-bracing] roof, and a grand wooden staircase which dominates the entry hall. In addition, four hand-carved cypress columns adorn the front portico, and share an unusual origin with the staircase.
During a visit to Knoxville, Mr. and Mrs. Brooks discovered the old C.B. Atkins residence [an authentic antebellum mansion] and became most enamored with its unusual columns and stairway. Though Allandale was not yet even on the drawing board at the time, they gladly purchased the pieces, then set about transporting the massive set.
After Mr. Brooks received special permission from the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the columns [which measure 25 feet across] and the curving staircase were successfully shipped 100+ miles from Knoxville… over roads that were only two-lane highways at that time. They were then stored in a tin enclosure for two years until the Brooks’ house was built to display them.
Fine furnishings were collected from around the world to enhance their new home, including choice oriental rugs and priceless antiques. No expense, seemingly, was spared to adorn the home with period pieces from England, France, Germany, Italy, and far-flung regions of the United States.
Allandale Mansion was not the first residence on that property – see our page on The Brown House!
Who Was Harvey Brooks?
Harvey Brooks came to Kingsport from Rogersville in 1913 to join his brother, C.E. Brooks, in the lumber and building supply business. His business career was interrupted by service in the Army in World War I.
In the early 1920’s Mr. Brooks founded the Brooks Sand and Gravel Company which he continued to operate until its merger with Vulcan Materials in 1958. The roadbed of the Clinchfield Railroad from Elkhorn City, Kentucky to Spartanburg, South Carolina was built with material from his company. The business grew to include operations and quarries at Erwin and Lenoir City in Tennessee as well as a dredging operation in Huntsville, Alabama.
Around 1949, when his farm land south of Kingsport was inundated by the building of Fort Patrick Dam, he moved his Angus cattle and Tennessee Walking horses to a farm on the western edge of Kingsport, the former J. Fred Johnson Farm. Here, he and his wife, Ruth Haire Brooks, together built Allandale. At about the time most men retire, with the help of farm foreman, George Wheeler, he assembled a herd of national reputation. In 1965, Allandale showed the International Champion Female in Chicago and was the breeder of the reserve champion bull. In 1965 and 1966, Ermitre of Haymount, the main herd sire, was named “Sire of the Year” in the United States.
Mr. Brooks also was a real estate developer. Brooks Circle was named for him and his brother. He was one of the early owners of Ridgefields and sold the site where the former Kingsport National Bank was located. In memory of his wife Ruth, who died in 1962, Mr. Brooks deeded 100 acres of Allandale to the state as the site for the University Center. In 1968 Mr. Brooks married Mrs. Josephine Pratt, a family friend for more than 40 years.
Mr. Brooks in his business and personal life inspired loyalty among his employees. Many who were employed by him in the early days of the business continued until his retirement.
Upon his death in 1969, Mr. Brooks left the house, 25 acres, several outbuildings and two man-made ponds to the city of Kingsport. The will specified that the house must be maintained in the same manner as when its former owners were alive and must be devoted to public use.