The usual and preferred method of architectural preservation is to restore a building in its original location. The building may be a product of the local area in that it was constructed with stone, wood, or bricks made from clay taken from the land on which it was built. It may have been built by local craftsmen whose work, along with the stories of others whose lives are associated with that place, are a part of its fabric. The landscape had a significant bearing on the building and eventually the building, itself, became a part of that landscape, perhaps even a landmark, over time.
While moving an historic building from its original location is not the usual method of preservation, there are circumstances in which that option may be the only way to insure its continued life. The reasons for this sometimes controversial solution vary and may include inaccessibility of the location, disrepair, neglect, disinterest, lack of funding for maintenance or rehabilitation, or the desire of owners to use the land for other purposes. Time may simply have passed the property by and there is no longer any viable use for it in its original location. Any of these reasons or a combination may contribute to the decision to remove and reconstruct a building elsewhere.
When the choice is either to allow a significant and historic building to completely deteriorate or move it to another location where it will be restored and interpreted, the decision is easier. In the case of the Rogan Houses, different groups believed these residences to be so important that negotiations and arrangements were made to dismantle, move, and reconstruct the historic dwellings -- albeit thousands of miles apart. Hugh Rogan's stone house, built ca. 1798-1800, remained in Sumner County and is a prominent feature of Blesdoe's Fort Historical Park. The Francis Rogan House, built ca. 1825-1830, is now located in the Ulster-American Folk Park in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland.
Hugh Rogan's stone dwelling is very nearly the same age as Tennessee which became a state in 1796. As the state and the house entered their third century, the survival of this remnant of Sumner County's pioneer society was questionable. It was in a state of serious disrepair and neglect and its location was not easily accessible. It had not been lived in within current memory and in the place where it had stood for 200 years, it was not likely to serve any viable purpose again.
Members of the Bledsoe's Lick Historical Association, however, believed the house to be of such architectural, historical, and cultural importance that arrangements were made with the dwelling's owners to remove the storied cottage from Rogana to Bledsoe's Fort Historical Park. This 80-acre park includes well-documented Native American sites and the archaeological location of Isaac Blesdoe's 1780's fort. This place would have been well known to Hugh Rogan and his contemporaries including Nathaniel Parker, whose cabin had been moved from its location not far from Rogana, and reconstructed in the park in 1992.
In the summer and fall of 1998, the Rogan stone house was carefully dismantled and moved to Bledsoe's Fort Historical Park and reconstructed on a slight hill, similar to its original location. As a focal point of the park, displays and furnishings tell the story of the Rogan family and the impact they and other settlers of Irish and Scottish descent had on the history, culture, and heritage of Tennessee.
The Francis Rogan House, ca. 1825-1830, was built by the second son of Hugh and Nancy Duffy Rogan. Francis (also Frances and Frank on some legal documents and in various sources) was born in Sumner County in 1798. His parents and his older brother Bernard, 24 years old when Francis was born, had been reunited in County Tyrone in 1796. After an absence of more than twenty years, Hugh returned to his native country and brought his wife and son to the Sumner County farm in 1797.
We do not know at present whether Frank had any formal schooling. We do know he was raised by his parents in the Catholic faith. As a first generation Irish-American, he became a man of considerable property. After Hugh died December 19, 1813, Francis and his mother, along with several slaves carried on with the farming. From the records of Pioneer Century Farms in Sumner County, those farms founded prior to 1796 which have remained in the same family since that time, we know that common crops included tobacco, corn, grains, vegetables, for table and market. Horses sheep, cattle, and swine were the usual livestock.
In 1821, Francis is listed as owning 320 acres on Bledsoe Creek. We know that he did business with his neighbor, blacksmith Peter Bryson and later his son James, for his name is included in the 1829 entries of the Bryson's account book (Durham, Old Sumner, p. 171). Goodspeed's History of Sumner County (p.917) refers to Frank Rogan as a farmer and life-long resident of the farm where he was born. He is further described as a man of brilliant intellect, and honored for his integrity and courage.
Francis built his handsome brick home adjacent to the stone house. While not palatial by any means, the two-story house, with basement, is a form of a hall and parlor plan. Its design and appointments indicated that the first generation American owner was successfully increasing his wealth and building on the legacy left by his father. In the first years his household included only himself and his mother. His brother Bernard was away from home much of the time from 1803 until 1821 when he returned to the family farm and lived there until his death in 1873.
Francis and Martha Lytle Read were married in 1833 joining two of
the pioneer families of Sumner County. Martha was the daughter of Capt. William Read and Polly Bledsoe
and granddaughter of
Frank and Martha were the parents of several children; one source lists seven, another mentions nine. At least two died in infancy and one son, John Montgomery, was killed during the Civil War. Clarissa, Charles and William survived their parents. Francis Rogan died on September 26, 1885 and was buried in the family cemetery near John and Martha. The family lived on the farm, and presumably in the house, throughout the nineteenth century and into the first two decades of the twentieth century. Dr. John Beasley bought the property in 1920 and it is this family that continues to own the land.
In 2008, staff of the Ulster-American Folk Park, located near Omagh in County Tyrone, a site operated by the Museums of Northern Ireland, negotiated with the owners of the Francis Rogan House to have it dismantled and removed to the park. The new location of the house is within a few miles of where Hugh, Nancy, and Bernard were born and lived. The story of migration of thousands of people from Northern Ireland to America is interpreted throughout the park and people come to the nearby Centre for Migration Studies to research family history. The Rogan family represents thousands of immigrants who made the journey in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in hopes of bettering their lives and the lives of those of future generations. Furnishings from the period, or reproductions based on period design and craftsmanship, the houses themselves, and the Rogan family history, tell the story on either side of the Atlantic Ocean.