Historic Structures

Hancock Hall, La Grange Tennessee

Date added: July 26, 2021 Categories: Tennessee House Mansion

Family tradition states that Dr. John Junius Pulliam came to LaGrange from Granville County, North Carolina in about 1857. He had purchased two lots in the town as early as 1850; however, this house is not on those lots. Hancock Hall was begun in 1857 and was used by the Union soldiers as headquarters for Colonel John K. Mizner. Mizner allowed the Pulliam family to remain in two rooms.

In 1875 Dr. Pulliam exchanged homes with Mrs. Olive Winston, a daughter of Major Charles Michie; she moved to Hancock Hall and he to Woodlawn. Captain William Franklin Hancock bought the home from Mrs. Winston in 1881, just before the birth of the present owner. Subsequently Captain Hancock also bought Woodlawn, moved there, and in 1912 sold Hancock Hall to his daughter and her husband, Peter Raymond Beasley. The Beasleys again exchanged the homes, as Mrs. Beasley's parents wished to live closer to town; after the deaths of Captain and Mrs. Hancock, the Beasleys came back to Hancock Hall in late 1916. It remains in the family.

The dimensions of the house are 54'-6" x 54'-6" for the major block with an east wing (kitchen) in the northeast corner, creating a near square form. There are two rear porches and porticoes on the south and west facades. The building is five bays wide on both the south and west facades. It is two full stories high with a dimension of 29' from grade to cornice and 36' from grade to ridge.

The most prominent features of the house exterior are the twin white porticoes on the south and west facades. Each is a two-story wood Doric tetra-prostyle portico (9'-l" x 20'-8" on south; 8'-ll" x 20'-4" on west) with columns 21'-4" high (diameter 2'-0" with sixteen flutes). The porches are reached via wooden stairs (five and half risers on the south; eight on west) with 6-1/2" risers and 11-1/2" treads. The entablature of each portico is Ionic without a sculptured freize, and there is a plain surface tympanum in the pediment. The rear porch (north) is of a a later date. It extends across the first floor and is a screened enclosure (a later addition). A small wood porch on the northeast corner of the wing gives access to the kitchen.

It was intended that there be balconies at the second floor under each portico. They were never built.

Access to the building is made into a large entry hall situated at the center of the south side, which is divided into two parts. In the southeast corner is the dining room; in the southwest is the parlor. The latter has built-in shelving along the north wall to a height of about 4 feet.

The stairhall is located in the center room of the entry hall, with the stairs on the east wall. To the west of the stairhall is a study which has a doorway opening onto the west portico. In the northwest corner of the building is a bedroom. To the north of the stairhall is a small chamber serving as a hallway to the rear (north) porch. This room has a small bathroom on the east side. Along the rear east side of the building is a kitchen, with spaces for pantry and storage.

The stairway gives access to the second floor stairhall which has a small bathroom tucked into its southeast corner. There are three rooms along the south side of the building, and three along the west (the southwest corner room being counted twice). The center rooms on the south and west sides have exterior doors which would have given access to the balconies. The balconies were never built. There is a small chamber in the rear of the stairhall.