The Brinegar Cabin, home place of Martin and Caroline Joines Brinegar, is representative of the isolated self-sufficient existence of mountain families during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The couple married in 1878; he was 21 and she was 16. Two years later they began setting up their homestead on land purchased from Caroline’s uncle. The cabin and additional outbuildings took five years to complete, and it is believed that other than lifting the logs into place, Martin did the rest of the work on the cabin himself. There they raised their three children.
The one-story two-room dwelling is characteristic of farm buildings constructed in the region. According to William S. Powell in his definitive work, North Carolina through Four Centuries:
“members of the small farmer class generally occupied a one-or-two-room log or frame house, perhaps with a lean-to on the back. A single large fireplace was used for cooking and for heat. The furniture consisted of simple beds with corn shuck, straw or feather mattresses, stools, benches and a table. Dresser and chests were rare and seldom needed since there were few extra clothes or linen to store. Whatever was not worn was hung on pegs driven into the walls around the room.”
Following Martin’s death in 1925, Caroline continued to live in the cabin for another 10 years when the state of North Carolina purchased the homestead. The building underwent a complete restoration and, depending on staffing, is open to visitors at milepost 238.5 along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It now houses exhibits on mountain life and crafts.