116 Solar Street
The 2-story, brick, Georgian style home at 116 Solar Street was built by and originally owned and occupied by Robert L. Gaut and his wife, Mary F. Butler Gaut. Mrs. Gaut was the great granddaughter of Sarah King Williams, the daughter of Colonel James King and only sister to the Reverend James King, founder of King College. This lineage is detailed as follows:
Mrs. Gaut's mother was Sarah Francis Stringfield Butler, a writer and first woman publisher of the Women's Methodist Missionary Society in Nashville, TN.
Sarah Francis Stringfield Butler was the daughter of the Reverend Thomas Stringfield and his wife, also named Sarah, who was the daughter of Sarah King Williams.
Sarah King Williams was the sister to the Reverend James King and daughter of old Colonel James King. Sarah King Williams lived at Strawberry Plains, Tennessee; in fact, the town of Strawberry Plains is built on their plantation.
Robert L. Gaut was the son of Colonel (CSA) J.W. and Sarah J. Gaut. He was born in Knoxville, TN, in 1853. Mr. Gaut's father was a colonel in the Confederate Army, and during the war his family lived in Moneta, GA, where Robert received his education. Mr. Gaut early learned the flour and milling business and managed the Lenoir, TN Milling Company's business for 4 years; net he managed the Morristown Mills for 9 years. Four 4 years he was chief clerk under Collector of Internal Revenue John T. Essary, during Cleveland's last administration. After this he was manager for many years of the Knoxville City Mills. Mr. Gaut came to Bristol in 1901 and was one of the owners and incorporators of the Sparger Mill Company. In a March 9th, 1909 article in the Bristol newspaper, under the title of "Prominent Business and Professional Men of Bristol", Mr. Gaut is described as "very extensively and most favorably known throughout the territory commercially contiguous to Bristol". He was an active member of the United Commercial Travelers Association, junior councilor of Bristol Council, No. 191, and chairman of the Tennessee State Executive Committee and delegate to the state grand council at Chattanooga. Mr. Gaut married Mary F. Butler of Knoxville, Feb. 24, 1876. They had eight children. The Gauts are buried in historic East Hill Cemetery, Bristol, TN.
The house was designed by C.B. Kearfoot, a well known architect of old Bristol. The First Baptist Church and old Reynolds Building downtown are among his better known designs. The original architectural plans have survived almost a century, fortunately being passed from owner to owner, and are still stored in the house along with a National Geographic magazine also from 1912. Other than the rear two-story addition done in the 1950's and the conversion of an upstairs sewing room into a bath, also done in the 1950's, the house has remained essentially structurally unchanged. It still retains its original side arbor that Mrs. Gaut had designed specifically for her wisteria to climb.
The carriage house at 116 Solar Street, a detached brick and wood building, is said to predate the main house, and was reportedly built in the late 1800's. It served originally as a carriage house for horses, then later as a garage. The upper level contains a small apartment which housed a cook and her daughter, Henrietta, during the years in which the Gauts lived in the home.
Following Mr. Gaut's death in the 1920's, Mary F. Gaut continued to live in the house until her death in 1935. The house was sold at that time to the Buchanan family of Bristol who managed a well-known downtown furniture business. One Buchanan son became a prominent Bristol surgeon. The house was sold again in the 1970's to
Ralph and Vivian Clarke; Mr. Clarke was a Bristol postmaster.
The house was purchased from the Clarke's in 1992 by LTC Clyde W. and Susan O. Long. Dr. Long is a Virginia Military Institute graduate who earned his degree in Dentistry at the Medical College of Virginia School of Dentistry. Dr. Long is now retired after a career serving in the United States Army. Mrs. Long is a native Bristolian, the daughter of W.L. and Dawn Osborne of Bristol, VA, and an alumnus of King College and the Medical College of Virginia's School of Pharmacy.