Kilgore Fort House
Killgore Fort House
Kilgore Fort House about 1930
|Nearest city||Nickelsville, Virginia|
|Area||1.8 acres (0.73 ha)|
|NRHP Reference #||72001415|
|Added to NRHP||May 19, 1972|
|Designated VLR||January 18, 1972|
The Kilgore Fort House is a historic site located in Scott County, Virginia at 190 West Jackson Street, Gate City, Virginia. Fort houses were built to provide protection for individual families during the period from 1773 to about 1795 when attacks by Native Americans on the pioneer settlers were common. The Kilgore Fort House was built about 1790 by the Reverend Robert Kilgore, and is the only surviving example of its type in southwest Virginia.
The Kilgore Fort House was restored in 1973–74. There are two stories, with two rooms on each story. The rooms on each floor were separated by a timber partition. The rooms have been arranged so that if they were attacked they could retreat into the next, until a final stand could be made in the northeast room of the second floor. The original building was constructed without windows, but had small openings for gun ports, which feature emphasizes its defensive purpose. The doors were made of heavy timbers and inside held shut with a heavy bar. The house was made of trimmed white oak log timbers, each of which was notched at the end to receive the timber from the adjacent wall. Gaps between timbers were chinked with mud. A large stone fireplace and chimney on the northeast side was provided for cooking and heating.
Despite its obvious defensive design, there is no record of the fort house being attacked by Indians. A story persists in the county that Cherokee Indians once camped on the far bank of Copper Creek, but that is unlikely since the far bank is a cliff. The fort house is on a natural crossing on Copper Creek that is still used today. Older residents remember when cars would ford the creek at this spot; at least two bridges, including the current one, have been built here. Unused bridge pilings still exist in the creek.
The Kilgore Fort House is also called the Kilgore Fort, but unlike the popular idea of a frontier fort, it had no walls around it. Instead it is simply a log home designed for defense, hence the term fort house.
After spending over a quarter of a million dollars on renovations ($40,000 in grant funds from the state level and nearly $300,000 in Federal grant funds)for restoration, Scott County Commissioners returned the Kilgore Fort House to private landowners, over the objections of citizens present at the meeting. Those citizens feared being denied access to the Fort House in the future. As they feared, and despite the expenditure of these significant public dollars, the Fort House was immediately closed to the public by the landowner, and remains closed. Given that this is the only remaining structure of its kind from this important era in American history, and given the public dollars involved in its restoration, it seems prudent and even desirable for the public to have access to this important site again.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
- "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 03-12-2013.
- "Kilgore Fort House". Wilderness Road, Virginia's Heritage Migration Route. Retrieved 2 November 2010.
- "Kilgore Fort House". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 2 November 2010.
- Addington, Robert M. (1932). History of Scott County, Virginia. Heritage Books. ISBN 0-7884-2020-8.