Just the Facts

Historic Siler/Jones house gifted to Mainspring

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Over the last 200 years, the Siler/Jones House on East Main Street in Franklin has served as a farmstead, a boarding house, and a home to generations of descendants of one Franklin’s first settlers, Jesse R. Siler. Recently, the Jones Family completed a plan to ensure the lasting legacy of the home by transferring “the house at the foot of the hill,” as it is locally known, to Franklin-located Mainspring Conservation Trust. The gift opens doors to a future of restoration, conservation, education, and more. 

Dick Jones, who turns 90 years old this month and grew up in the house, reflected on the family’s decision to gift the house to Mainspring.

“We had long discussions, including with my wife, Melissa, our children, Laura and Fred, and his wife, Jennifer, and our grandchildren about their dreams for the property’s future,” said Jones. “We felt it was time to entrust this important piece of our family legacy, and really our community’s legacy, to an organization committed to preserving our collective cultural heritage.”

REPRESENTING THREE living generations of the Jones Family in front of the 200-plus-year-old home property they gifted to Mainspring Conservation Trust are (seated): Melissa and Richard Jones; (back row, from left): Tommy Schnabel and fiancé Kate Jones, Fred Jones, Jennifer Jones, Lyle Jones, Laura Jones Caffrey, and Christina Jones.

In 1820, Jesse Siler, a pioneer instrumental in shaping the modern-day town of Franklin, purchased the property from the State of North Carolina. Over the years, a humble log cabin that came with the land underwent considerable transformations. For more than 60 years, the home remained in the Siler family. This changed in 1888, when Jesse’s son, Julius Grady Siler, swapped properties with his Siler cousin, Harriett, and her husband, Judge George Jones. Under their care, the home was extensively renovated and extended. It has remained in the Jones family since then. The Siler/Jones home’s significance was firmly established when it earned a place on the National Historic Register in 1982.

Jordan Smith, Mainspring’s executive director, emphasized the importance of the house’s historical ties.

 “Not only is the home significant as a symbol of early Appalachia, but it now has a connection to the Removal in 1830,” said Smith.

He explained that in 2023, a Route Refinement on the Trail of Tears determined that the trail followed the road directly in front of the Siler/Jones House. Since the home was standing and occupied at the time of [the Indian] Removal [Act of 1830], that designation would make it the only known “Witness House” on the (refined) National Historic Trail in North Carolina. 

Restoration and renovation work has already begun under the management of Jim Byrd Construction. 

“Mainspring is the perfect partner for this special place, as its whole purpose is to preserve our natural and cultural resources and to make our region a place with deep roots and far-reaching branches,” said Fred Jones, “We are so pleased to partner with Mainspring and cannot wait to see what the future will bring.” 

Mainspring Conservation Trust is a regional nonprofit dedicated to saving important places in the Southern Blue Ridge. For more information, visit www.mainspringconserves.org

Pictured above: THE SILER-JONES House was gifted recently to Mainspring Conservation Trust to be preserved for cultural heritage and education purposes.