Generations of the Smith Family lived in Historic Rock Castle in Hendersonville, Tennessee for almost 200 years before it was opened to the public for tours in the early 1970s. It was sold to the state by a Smith family descendent in 1969 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. Now, during the summer months and early fall, the historic home and museum offers concerts on the grounds, tours and camps for kids.
The museum welcomes the community to their annual Summer Songwriter’s Nights. This year they began in late May with two more occurring on July 16 and August 13. Deemed “an epic night of live music and family fun” on their Facebook page, the event offers food trucks, yard games, organized activities for kids, and inflatables. The doors open at 4:30 p.m. with the music starting at 5:00 p.m. Paul McDonald, Carl Wockner, Don Gallardo, and Chloe Duvall Music will be performing. Locally crafted artisanal brews are available from Half Batch Brewing! Bring a blanket and some chairs to sprawl out on the grounds where everyone can enjoy the music of up-and-coming singer-songwriters while enjoying dinner from Hurt’s Hot Chicken, Castle Crew Concessions and Seven Flavors food trucks.
Also, during the summer Rock Castle offers six different children’s camps. In June, they had Fantasy Camp, Frontier Camp and Mythology Camp. In July, they will be offering Vintage Summer Camp, American Girls Camo, and Heroes and Villains Camp.
Sold out June Frontier Camp, the longest running and most popular camp, is a fun way for kids to learn about history by experiencing what it was like to live during the time when Rock Castle was built by Daniel and Sarah Smith. Participants learn that food didn’t come from the grocery store and there were no cell phones or comfortable homes with air conditioning. Campers learn outdoor skills such as building a fire from scratch to cook over, knot tying, survival fishing and trapping, primitive shelter building, target shooting and paddling on the river.
Vintage Summer Camp also takes campers back in time, but not quite so far back. The first of the July camp offerings, it runs from July 11 through July 14. It is for kids seven to 12. A classic summer camp experience, campers will participate in singalongs, arts and crafts, nature walks, and summer camp games and activities, like field games, water games, and camp-wide competitions.
American Girl Camp, another of Rock Castle’s longest-standing and most loved camps, they use the background of the various American Girl dolls to explore history from 1764 until today through crafts, games, songs and activities. Running July 18 through 21, participants must be between the ages of six and 12. The camp will also include boating on the river.
Their last camp of the season explores the epic battle between the forces of good and evil through favorite superheroes, princesses and villains using games and activities. Heroes and Villains Camp will have each camper choose the persona of a hero or villain, get into teams based on their choices, and then compete with the other side for daily “control of the camp”! The camp runs from July 25 through July 28.
In the fall, Rock Castle will offer more events for kids, especially their Living History Days. They recreate a 1784 landscape for guests to explore on the homestead site. Participants engage with 18th century tradespeople including a blacksmith, log hewer, weaver, and pottery artisan. They will also enjoy hands-on interactions with goats, chickens and sheep. And the highlight of their experience will be on the dance floor with a five-piece band and dance caller.
On September 10, they will offer exciting folk and bluegrass performances, and community-focused fun at this year’s Folk n’ Bluegrass Fest at Historic Rock Castle, which is a part of their Living History Days meant for all ages.
While at these events, take the time to learn a little more about the Smith family. They have ties to many famous historical figures in the history of the state and even the nation. General Daniel Smith was a surveyor, politician, and military officer. He served as the Commander of the Mero District, Secretary of the Southwest Territory; Chairman of the committee that drafted the Tennessee State Constitution; United States Senator; and United States Commissioner for Indian negotiations. Through marriage, the family is related to both the Donelson family and Andrew Jackson.
Located on Drake’s Creek, a tributary to the Cumberland River, the land around the home once included 3,140 acres. This land was originally given to Daniel Smith for his services during the Revolutionary War as a soldier and a surveyor. Begun in 1784, and made out of limestone, Rock Castle is the oldest house in Middle Tennessee. Luckily, because it stayed in one family for so long, it is in a state similar to when it was first built.
Historic Rock Castle
139 Rock Castle Lane Hendersonville, TN 37075